Mammography has added significantly to the detection of breast cancer at a stage before palpation of a mass is possible. It should be employed with the understanding that it is an adjunctive method to physical examination and its diagnostic accuracy does not substitute for biopsy of a palpable lesion. Further, and most important, if mammography does not show an abnormality of the breast, it does not rule out cancer. This fact cannot be overemphasized, but should not denigrate this study when properly used and considered within its limitations.
The tendency to be reassured by mammography, when normal, is difficult to overcome; however, one must constantly keep in mind that a carcinoma may be lurking in an area of the breast not seen on the x-ray film or it simply may not be of sufficient density to be separable on the x-ray film, especially in the premenopausal patient.
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