"Thyroid shields can impede good mammographic quality and, therefore, are not recommended during mammography," said Alison L. Chetlen, D.O., assistant professor of radiology at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.
During mammography, some X-rays scatter away from the primary beam in the breast and spread outward in different directions. Although this scatter radiation is much weaker than the primary beam, there has been concern that women exposed to it during mammography could face an increased risk of cancer, especially in radiosensitive areas like the thyroid gland.
To better understand the potential impact of scatter radiation, Dr. Chetlen and colleagues set out to measure the dose received by the thyroid gland, salivary gland, sternum, uterus and the lens of the eye during screening digital mammography. Each of the 207 women in the study group wore six optically stimulated luminescent dosimeters -- a device used to measure an absorbed dose of ionizing radiation -- while undergoing two-view screening mammography.
Analysis of the dosimeters by a medical physicist immediately after the exam revealed that the doses to the various areas outside of the breast ranged from negligible to very low.
Absorbed radiation dose is measured in a unit called a milligray (mGy). The average estimated organ dose to the salivary gland was 0.05 mGy. The average estimated organ dose to the thyroid gland was 0.05 mGy. These doses are only a fraction of the radiation people are exposed to from natural background sources, such as cosmic radiation and radionuclides in the ground. In fact, all areas except for the sternum received less than 2 percent of annual background radiation dose.
Measured dose to the bridge of the eye and umbilicus was negligible, indicating no increased risk to the patient of cataracts or interference with normal embryonic development in early pregnancy.
"The risk of cancer induction at these low levels is indistinguishable from background incidence of cancer due to other sources," Dr. Chetlen said.
The findings are particularly important in light of a recent increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer, one of the most radiosensitive of all cancers. The number of thyroid cancer diagnoses in women nearly doubled from 2000 to 2008, leading some to suspect that mammography may be a contributing factor and that women should wear lead thyroid shields during exams, an idea that Dr. Chetlen and other mammography experts strongly discourage.
Based on the extremely low scatter radiation dose to the thyroid—equivalent to just a few minutes of background radiation, thyroid shields are unnecessary during mammography. In addition, the researchers warn that use of thyroid shields could result in an increased radiation dose to patients.
"A thyroid shield gets in the way of the exam and can actually cause an increase in radiation dose by necessitating repeat exams," Dr. Chetlen said.
Dr. Chetlen also pointed out that the thyroid gland is far less radiosensitive after age 30. The American Cancer Society and other organizations recommend that women have mammography screening once every year, beginning at age 40.
"In the age group eligible for screening, the thyroid gland is not very radiosensitive," Dr. Chetlen said.
Coauthors are Steven King, M.S., Karen Brown, C.H.P., D.A.B.R., Brian Lorah, Susann Schetter, D.O., Claudia Kasales, M.D., Shelley Tuzzato, R.T.R.M., and Shelly Rambler, R.T.R.M.
Note: Copies of RSNA 2012 news releases and electronic images will be available online at RSNA.org/press12 beginning Monday, Nov. 26.
RSNA is an association of more than 50,000 radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists and related scientists, promoting excellence in patient care and health care delivery through education, research and technologic innovation. The Society is based in Oak Brook, Ill.
Editor's note: The data in these releases may differ from those in the published abstract and those actually presented at the meeting, as researchers continue to update their data right up until the meeting. To ensure you are using the most up-to-date information, please call the RSNA Newsroom at 1-312-949-3233.
For patient-friendly information on mammography, visit RadiologyInfo.org.
Linda Brooks | EurekAlert!
Rabies viruses reveal wiring in transparent brains
19.01.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
On track to heal leukaemia
18.01.2017 | Universitätsspital Bern
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
19.01.2017 | Life Sciences
19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy