No women's health problem poses a greater threat to their well-being than breast cancer. The successful management of breast cancer, which affects one in every ten American women at some point in their lives, depends primarily on early detection, ideally while the lesion is still clinically occult. The most sensitive and reliable method of early detection is state-of-the-art screening mammography. Mammography is most effective when performed with specially designed x-ray equipment incorporating a firm device that compresses the breast during the brief roentgenographic exposure.
See also p 521. Compression increases image detail by bringing the entire breast as close as possible to the image receptor; it increases image contrast by diminishing scattered radiation; it decreases blurring of the image by preventing motion of the breast; it reduces dose by reducing breast thickness; and it decreases overlap of tissues within the breast, allowing optimal evaluation of normal and abnormal structures that