A mammogram is an x-ray of the soft tissue of the breast. It is the recommended modality for early detection of breast cancer. We offer both screening and diagnostic mammograms. Screening mammograms are performed in individuals with no signs or symptoms of breast problems. Diagnostic mammograms are performed when signs and symptoms of breast problems are present. Such problems might include breast lumps, nipple discharge, change in breast shape or size, and/or breast pain. Diagnostic mammograms often take a little longer to perform because more x-rays are needed to show the breast from different angles.
Mammography aids in the early detection and diagnosis of breast cancer when it is most treatable. It makes it possible to show changes long before a provider or patient may realize there is a problem. Current guidelines from the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) recommend a yearly screening mammogram for all women beginning at age 40. If there is a history of personal or family breast cancer, your provider may request a different timeline for mammography.
On the day of the exam you will be asked to not wear any powder, lotion, perfume, deodorant or jewelry. There is a questionnaire that will need to be completed by you and reviewed by the technologist. A gown will be provided for you to wear during the examination. During the examination, the technologist will place your breast between two plates on the imaging machine and compression will be applied for a few seconds while each image is taken. You will be asked to hold your breath and not move. You will feel some discomfort and pressure but should not experience pain. The length of the total examination is about ten to fifteen minutes. The amount of radiation involved in this type of examination is extremely low.
Once all of the images have been taken, one of our board certified radiologists will view the images and provide a written interpretation. If you have had prior breast studies done elsewhere, it is important that you bring these with you. A comparison can then be made between your new films and the old one. Once the radiologist has analyzed all of your studies, your results will be sent to your referring provider who will review them with you. In addition, a letter will be mailed to you indicating the type of follow-up necessary. If the results are negative, you will be asked to return in a year for another screening mammogram. Other times the radiologist will request that you return as soon as possible for an additional evaluation. Sometimes results are considered most likely to be negative but it will be recommended that you return in 6 months for follow-up studies. If any abnormality is seen, you will be asked to return for a breast biopsy to determine whether or not cancer is present. If your provider would like a digital copy of your mammogram, a CD can be made for you.