WHAT IS MAMMOGRAPHY?
Mammography examines the breast using x-rays. Mammograms can show changes in the breast before they are noticeable to patients or physicians. Because of this, mammography is important for early detection of breast cancers. Most experts agree that early diagnosis is essential for successful treatment of breast cancer, and mammography screenings are considered the most effective tools for early diagnosis.
Did you know that a woman dies of breast cancer every 12 minutes in the United States? With advancements in technology and better access to early screening, that number can be reduced, which is why a yearly, preventative mammogram is so important. To schedule your annual screening mammogram, find a location near you. We are proud to offer 3D mammography at our Riverside and Town Center locations.
A BETTER MAMMOGRAM
What is 3D mammography?
Tomosynthesis, known as 3D mammography, produces detailed images of the breasts. To create 3D images, a second set of images is made during a traditional mammogram. This can be particularly helpful for women with dense breasts because 3D mammography allows for clearer images of tissue. Dense tissue can mask abnormalities or create false positives.
How do you know if you have dense breasts?
Breast density refers to the amount of glandular or connective tissue relative to fat; it does not refer to breast firmness. Therefore, a mammogram is the only way to determine breast density. If you want more information, speak with your doctor or mammography provider.
Who should have a mammogram?
For women who have a normal risk of breast cancer, the American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology recommends annual mammograms beginning at age 40. The National Cancer Institute recommends that women who have had breast cancer and those who are at increased risk due to genetic history talk to their doctor to see if they should receive annual mammograms before age 40. Your doctor may also recommend a breast MRI if you have an increased risk of breast cancer due to family or personal history.
Before scheduling a mammogram, you should discuss any problems or pain in your breasts with your doctor. Generally, the best time to schedule a mammogram is one week following your period. Do not schedule your mammogram for the week before your period if your breasts are usually tender during this time.
How do I prepare for a mammogram?
Mammograms are quick, non-invasive procedures that don’t require typically special preparation. However, there are a few things to remember on the day of your mammogram:
- Do not wear lotion, deodorant or powder under your arms or on your breasts
- Describe any breast problems you are experiencing with your technologist
- Remove all jewelry and clothing from the waist up
- Always inform your technologist if there is any possibility you are pregnant
What should I expect during a mammogram?
Digital mammograms—the Optimal Imaging standard—typically take about 5 minutes. This is quicker compared to traditional mammography, which can take 10-15 minutes. To image your breast, an x-ray technician will position you near the machine and your breast will be placed on a platform and compressed with a paddle. Breast compression is necessary to:
- Spread out the tissue so that small abnormalities aren’t obscured
- Reduce radiation dose and improve picture sharpness
- Hold the breast still to eliminate image blurring
During your mammogram, the technologist will go behind a glass shield. You will be asked to change positions slightly between images—typically twice per breast—to ensure a full view of both breasts. When your examination is over, you may resume your normal daily activities unless otherwise instructed by your doctor. One of our board-certified radiologists will review the images and send a report to your physician.