In light of the recent de-accreditation of the mammography screening offered at Butte's Big Sky Diagnostic Imaging, NBC Montana has learned that mammograms get more scrutiny than any other imaging technique in the medical field.
Mammographies were developed to detect breast cancer. They use a a low energy x-ray to create an image of a person's breast that physicians can study for abnormalities that would indicate cancer.
Dr. Mike Stewart, a radiologist at Missoula's Advanced Imaging Center, says the scrutiny of the screening is a result of how dangerous breast cancer can be.
"Unfortunately, breast cancer affects 1 out of every 8 women during their lives," says Stewart. "So many people are either a survivor, or are related to a survivor, or know a survivor, so it has affected almost everybody."
In 1992, the Mammography Quality Standards Act was passed by the United States Congress. The act requires mammography centers go through an accreditation process every three years through the FDA.
"We're also accredited by our own college, the American College of Radiology," said Stewart. "We submit images, our education and all of our qualifications to make sure that everything is up to par, including the technologists, the physicians, and the equipment."
Stewart says the key to defeating the disease is early detection.
"That's done by high quality mammography, by women being knowledgeable in what they do with their screening tests, and by being diligent on coming in and getting their mammogram every year."
There are currently 41 mammography centers in Montana accredited by the American College of Radiology.
To see the complete list of the accredited centers and their locations, click here.