A mammogram is a safe, low dose X-ray procedure to visualize the breast tissue. It is performed to detect tumors, which may be too small to feel during a physical examination. As a result, many breast cancers can be found early, before they have spread to other body parts.
- How often should I have one?
The American Cancer Society recommends a baseline mammogram at or before age 40 and a screening mammogram every year after.
- Is it painful?
Some women experience discomfort because the breast is compressed for a few seconds. The discomfort is temporary and does not damage the breast tissue.
- How long does it take?
Approximately 15 minutes.
- Are mammograms safe?
Yes. Our facility is certified by the American College of Radiology and the Food and Drug Administration. This ensures that our equipment meets strict guidelines for quality testing. The technologist performing the exam and the radiologist who reads it have completed advanced training and have surpassed minimum requirements for certification.
- What will the exam be like?
Your breast will be gently compressed on the image plate. It is necessary to spread the breast tissue evenly for better X-ray penetration and uniformity. You will most likely have two images taken in slightly different positions of each breast.
- What if I have implants?
Women with breast implants should have mammograms according to guidelines for non-augmented breasts. The implant will be gently pushed back in order to visualize the remaining breast tissue. The risk of rupturing the implant is minimal.
- How do I get the exam results?
The radiologist will read your films and the results will be sent to your doctor. You also will receive a letter in the mail informing you of your results. It will recommend when you should return for another exam.
- Why are six-month follow-ups sometimes recommended?
It is important to closely observe benign-appearing conditions in the breast to confirm that there have been no changes over time. Breast calcifications are the most common cause. They are small deposits of calcium of varying shapes and locations. Changes in the pattern, or new calcifications, may indicate the presence of a small cancer and may require a biopsy.
Preparing for a Mammogram
- How do I prepare for a mammogram?
Wear comfortable clothing, preferably a two-piece outfit. Do not wear powder or deodorant in underarm area on the day of the exam. Bring any previous mammogram films that you may have to the Diagnostic Center.
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