What can I expect during the exam?

The simple, routine exam usually takes 15 to 20 minutes. Each breast is gently compressed during the examinations and a low dosage X-ray is obtained for the radiologist to evaluate.

 

Although the compression may be slightly uncomfortable for a very short period of time, good compression is essential for the radiologist to see all the tissue inside the breast. The radiologist needs to be able to examine all breast tissue, including the tissue along the chest wall and underneath the armpit. After carefully positioning your breast on the mammography machine, the technologist will compress your breast for about 5 seconds to obtain the x-ray image. You can anticipate having at least 2 views per breast.

You may be called back for additional views, but it should be noted that these studies usually confirm normal tissue.

Is mammography safe?

The benefits of early cancer detection far outweigh the very small risk associated with the extremely low level X-ray used in mammography. The mammography equipment at Radiology Regional Center is specifically designed for and dedicated to mammography. It is calibrated regularly and board certified radiological physicists monitor quality control. Our staff and equipment are fully accredited by the American College of Radiology.

Facts You Should Know*
  • Approximately one out of every eight women develops breast cancer during the course of her lifetime.
  • Nine out of ten women can survive breast cancer if the disease is detected at its earliest stages.
Keys to Early Detection

Clinical evaluation of the breast by a physician:

  • Every 3 years for women 20-40 yrs. old
  • Every year for women 40+ yrs. old
What is mammography?

A mammogram is a low dosage x-ray of each breast that is carefully evaluated by radiologist. Mammography can reveal both harmless and cancerous growths when they are too small to be felt by you or your physician.

The American Cancer Society endorses mammography, along with yearly physical examinations and monthly self-examinations, as the most effective means of detecting breast cancer at its earliest and most treatable stage. Generally, mammography can reveal benign and cancerous growths before you or your physician can feel them. If detected at the earliest stage, breast cancer has a five-year survival rate of over 95 percent, as small breast cancers are more treatable and can be removed before they spread to other parts of the body.

What are the advantages of digital mammography?

 

The advantages of digital mammography are significant. The workflow of the exam is more efficient, since the technologist does not have to leave the patient in the room to process the image. The monitor in the room immediately reveals the image, allowing the technologist to QA the image, and decide if repositioning is necessary. This ultimately leads to fewer retakes. As mentioned above, the dose is lower than film screen mammography. The ability to transfer images between centers, allowing for intradepartmental review, improves patient care.

The most noted advantage of digital mammography is the documented improved breast cancer detection in dense breasts. This is afforded by resolution of the image, and the ability of the radiologist to manipulate the image by computer graphics.

Research to date has not demonstrated that digital mammography detects breast cancer better in the average patient. Hence, film screen mammography remains a sensitive diagnostic tool and should not be discounted as inferior to digital mammography.

What is the difference between screening and diagnostic mammograms?


An annual screening mammogram is a low dose x-ray of each breast used to detect changes in women who have no signs or symptoms of breast cancer. It usually involves two views per each breast. Mammograms make it possible to detect tumors that cannot be felt or micro calcifications (tiny deposits of calcium in the breast) that sometimes indicate the presence of breast cancer.

 

Usually the exam is performed with a specially trained technologist, and within 24 to 48 hours, a radiologist will read the exam and issue a report to your physician. At the same time, you will receive written notification of the results via mail.


A diagnostic mammogram is performed when a patient has a physical sign or symptom, that the patient or the referring physician has noticed as new; or to evaluate changes found during a screening mammogram; or to view breast tissue when it is difficult to obtain a screening mammogram because of special circumstances.

 

Signs of breast cancer may include a lump, pain, skin thickening, nipple discharge, or a change in breast size or shape.

 

Typically a diagnostic mammogram takes longer than a screening mammogram because it involves special views in order to image the breast from different angles and/or magnify a questionable area to produce a detailed picture that can help the doctor make an accurate diagnosis. Upon completion of the exam, the patient will meet with the radiologist to discuss the findings.

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How do I prepare for the exam?

 

  • Try to schedule your procedure for the week after your period, when your breasts are less tender.
  • Please notify the office if you have previously had a mammogram, giving the name of the location. We will obtain these studies and compare them with your new mammogram.
  • If possible, wear a comfortable two piece outfit that will allow you to wear a gown from the waist up.
  • Please do not use underarm deodorant, talcum powder or cream. These may interfere with test results.
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Digital Mammography