What is a Mammography?
Mammography is a specific type of low-dose, non-invasive x-ray used to examine breast tissue, commonly searching for breast tissue irregularities. Digital mammograms allow your doctor to focus on areas of concern by enhancing readability and improving the interpretation of the images.
Medical experts agree that successful treatment of breast cancer is often linked to early detection. The American Cancer Society recommends a screening mammogram every year for women beginning at the age of 40. Women who have had breast cancer or those with a family history of breast cancer should talk with their physician regarding individualized recommendations for age and screening frequency.
A typical mammogram consists of two views of each breast. In all four views, the breasts are compressed firmly between two clear plates. The breast compression and positioning that occurs during filming is necessary in order to acquire the best possible visualization of breast tissue. Our facilities are accredited by the American College of Radiology. All of our facilities offer Mammopads and our technologists will work hard to ensure that the examination is as brief as possible and to minimize any discomfort.
Mammograms make it possible to detect tumors that cannot be felt. Mammograms can also find microcalcifications (tiny deposits of calcium in the breast) that sometimes indicate the presence of breast cancer. Mammography can be used either for screening or for diagnostic purposes in evaluating a breast lump:
- Screening mammography: Screening mammography is used to detect breast changes in women who have no signs or symptoms or observable breast abnormalities. The goal is to detect cancer before any clinical signs are noticeable. This usually requires at least two mammograms from different angles of each breast
- Diagnostic mammography: Diagnostic mammography is used to investigate suspicious breast changes, such as a breast lump, breast pain, an unusual skin appearance, nipple thickening or nipple discharge. It’s also used to evaluate abnormal findings on a screening mammogram, or to view breast tissue when it is difficult to obtain a screening mammogram because of special circumstances. Additional images can be made from other angles or focus on areas of concern at higher magnification. A diagnostic mammogram takes longer than a screening mammogram because it involves more x-rays in order to obtain additional views.
Preparing for a Mammogram
Advise us, at the time of scheduling your appointment, if you have breast implants. If you have had previous abnormal mammograms taken at another facility, please obtain the films and bring them with you if possible.
On the day of your test, please do not wear deodorant, powder, lotion, or jewelry around your neck. Wear a two-piece outfit, as you will be asked to undress completely from the waist up. The actual procedure of taking the images normally takes about 10 minutes. A radiologist will study your mammogram images and report the results to your physician.