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Thyroid guard: Do I need one during a mammogram?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/thyroid-guard/AN02196
- With Mayo Clinic internist
Sandhya Pruthi, M.D.read biographyclose window
Sandhya Pruthi, M.D.Sandhya Pruthi, M.D.
Dr. Sandhya Pruthi, certified by the American Board of Family Practice, has been practicing medicine at Mayo Clinic since 1995 with special interests in breast diseases and women's health.
Dr. Pruthi is a consultant in the Department of Medicine, the Division of General Internal Medicine and the Breast Diagnostic Clinic. She is an associate professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn.
The Winnipeg, Manitoba, native is enthusiastic about promoting education and patient-related research and has been active in both areas since joining Mayo Clinic. Dr. Pruthi is the primary investigator at Mayo Clinic of a clinical trial evaluating new agents for the prevention of breast cancer and has research interests in the identification of biomarkers for early detection of breast cancer.
Her other research and clinical interests include managing the health of women who are at increased risk of breast cancer, breast pain and hot flashes, and developing patient education decision-making tools for breast-related concerns.
She is past director of the Breast Diagnostic Clinic and has been a member of the Women's Health Executive Committee. Dr. Pruthi has been newly elected as a secretary of the executive committee for the American Society of Breast Disease. She has assisted with a variety of website content.
"Having an opportunity to share information and empower my patients in the way that will help them to understand and be able to make educated decisions about their own health is very important to me," Dr. Pruthi says.
"The Internet is a tremendous resource and information site for people, and I want them to get up-to-date and accurate information to be able to make informed choices for themselves, their family members and friends."
- Mammogram guidelines: What are they?
- Thyroid guard: Do I need one during a mammogram?
- Conflicting mammogram results: What can I do?
- see all in Cancer
Thyroid guard: Do I need one during a mammogram?
I'm concerned that radiation during a mammogram may increase my risk of thyroid cancer. Should I request a thyroid guard?
from Sandhya Pruthi, M.D.
Probably not, as there is little chance that a breast X-ray (mammogram) will cause thyroid cancer. In addition, a thyroid guard could interfere with the accuracy of your mammogram.
A thyroid guard or thyroid shield is a lead collar that wraps around your neck to block the radiation that's generated in making X-ray images.
During an X-ray, the majority of radiation needed to create the images goes exactly where it's aimed. In the case of a mammogram, most radiation exposure occurs in your breast. But the rest of your body is often exposed to small amounts of what's called scatter radiation. Scatter radiation during a mammogram is often a fraction of the natural radiation you'd receive in one day.
One study estimated that during a mammogram, which usually involves two X-rays, a woman's thyroid is exposed to the equivalent of 30 minutes of natural radiation. Even over many years of annual mammograms, this amount of additional radiation is considered tiny.
Still, don't let a fear of thyroid cancer keep you from having a mammogram. If you choose to use a thyroid guard, many facilities have them available. Call ahead to make sure one is available at your facility.
Discuss the benefits and risks of thyroid guards with your breast-imaging specialist. Thyroid guards can sometimes block breast tissue, making the mammogram images incomplete. Thyroid guards can also distort the appearance of the mammogram. In these cases, the mammogram images often need to be repeated.Next question
Conflicting mammogram results: What can I do?
- Sechopoulos I, et al. Mammography and the risk of thyroid cancer. American Journal of Roentgenology. 2012;198:705.
- Schonfeld SJ, et al. Medical exposure to radiation and thyroid cancer. Clinical Oncology (Royal College of Radiologists). 2011;23:244.
- Radiation exposure in X-ray and CT examinations. RadiologyInfo.org. http://radiologyinfo.org/en/safety/index.cfm?pg=sfty_xray. Accessed Oct. 9, 2012.
- The ACR and Society of Breast Imaging statement on radiation received to the thyroid from mammography. Society of Breast Imaging. http://www.sbi-online.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=4. Accessed Oct. 9, 2012.