It is important to let the mammographer know if you have had prior mammograms at another facility. The radiologist will want those mammograms for comparison.
WHAT IS MAMMOGRAPHY?
Mammography is a simple x-ray examination of the breasts. Most medical experts agree that successful treatment of breast cancer is often linked to early diagnosis. The value of mammography lies in its ability to detect cancer in the breast when it is still small – often too small to be felt or detected in any other way.
Current guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the American Cancer Society (ACS), The American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) recommend mammograms every year for women, beginning at age 40.
WHEN IS MAMMOGRAPHY USED?
Mammography is used to aid in the detection of breast diseases in women. Screening mammography can assist your physician in the detection of disease even if you have no complaints or symptoms.
Diagnostic mammography is used to evaluate a patient with abnormal clinical findings, such as a breast lump, nipple discharge or “cystic” breasts that may have been noticed by a patient or her doctor. Diagnostic mammography may also be done after an abnormal screening mammogram to determine the cause of an area of concern. It is important to remember that most lumps and other symptoms do not turn out to be cancer – even if a biopsy is recommended.
HOW SHOULD I PREPARE FOR MY MAMMOGRAM?
Before scheduling a mammogram, we recommend that you discuss any new findings or problems in your breasts with your doctor.
Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts on the day of the exam. These can appear on the mammogram film as tiny spots of calcium.
Do describe any breast symptoms or problems to the technologist who is performing the exam.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT DURING MY EXAM?
You will be asked to undress from the waist up and put on a special cape. A specially qualified radiologic technologist – called a mammographer – will perform your exam. We have two licensed mammographers at TCHS.
The breast is placed on a special platform and compressed with a paddle. The compression is extremely important for several reasons:
- Compression evens out the breast thickness so that all of the tissue can be visualized
- Compression spreads out the tissue so that small abnormalities won’t be covered by overlying breast tissue
- Compression allows the use of a lower x-ray dose since thinner amount of breast tissue is being imaged
- Compression helps to hold the breast still to eliminate blurring of the image caused by motion
The mammographer will go behind a glass shield while making the x-ray exposure, which will send a beam of x-rays through the breast to the film.
You will be re-positioned slightly between images. The routine views are a top-to-bottom view and a side view. Both breasts will be x-rayed, since it is necessary to compare one with the other.
HOW WILL I RECEIVE THE RESULTS?
The images obtained will be sent to Advanced Medical Imaging (AMI) to be read by a radiologist. If you are having additional images taken (after your initial screening mammogram), you may be given the option to stay and wait for your results. After your images are reviewed by the radiologist, if additional imaging, such as an ultrasound is needed; you will be able to have that done the same day. All other dictated reports will be available to your physician within 24 hours.