Today the mammogram is one of the most important tools in the detection and treatment of breast cancer. It has become a mainstay technique in diagnostic radiology, and has aided in the significant reduction of breast cancer deaths since their peak in 1991.
This technology has been evolving for over 100 years, and is still doing so, even as we speak. Mammography is one of our specializations here at Lubbock Diagnostic Radiology, and we’re ever-grateful for the evolution and development of this life-saving technique.
Today, we’d like to explore that history in order to celebrate the progress made in the field of mammography, and highlight its many impacts and benefits.
In 1913, a German surgeon named Albert Salomon experimented with radiography using mastectomy specimens. He was able to observe the process of tumors spreading to the lymph nodes, and demonstrated differentiation between types of cancers. The following years saw the rise of World War II, making it some time later that new developments in mammography were made public.
Stafford L. Warren, a radiologist from New York, demonstrated in 1930 the effectiveness of mammography in terms of diagnosis. Warren used an innovative “fine grain double emulsion” Kodak film and Patterson intensifying screens (along with many other new techniques for the time) in order to produce surprisingly accurate images. He experienced promising diagnostic successes that paved the way for modern mammography.
A radiologist named Raul Leborgne, hailing from Uruguay, introduced the importance of breast compression in 1949. His technique was able to detect “microcalcifications” that had a notable connection to breast cancer. It also allowed him to differentiate between benign and malignant calcifications of the breast.
In 1960, Robert L. Egan made public a technique using industrial, easily-reproducible film. He reported findings gathered from the breast imaging of 1,000 patients, discovering 238 cancerous masses. Egan’s work is considered one of the main contributors to the widespread use of mammography today.
With the success of Egan and his peers, mammography began to evolve and advance rapidly. Egan’s easily-reproducible film and low-radiation technique made mammography more accessible for many institutions. The next decade saw mammography becoming more and more common, and even produced a study stating that mammography had reduced breast cancer deaths by a third.
As diagnostic mammogram commonality increased, so, too, did mammogram regulation. In order to preserve the quality and consistency of mammogram results and readings, Congress enacted the Mammography Quality Standards Act of 1992. This imposed uniform mammography standards across the nation.
In 2000, the FDA approved the first digital mammography system, which allowed images to be stored, corrected, magnified, or transferred easily, and without the need for further screenings. With a lower radiation dose, easily-transferrable images, and technology that is better suited for younger or denser breasts, digital mammography changed the landscape drastically.
Here at LDR, digital mammography allows us to provide top-notch breast imaging to our patients in the Lubbock and South Plains area, and smooths the path for effective communication with referring physicians. We are deeply indebted to those radiologists who forged on before us, and are thrilled to see where mammography takes us in the future.