Mammography is a key component in the diagnosis of breast disease in women and plays an important role in early detection of breast cancer. Screening mammography can assist your physician in the detection of disease even if you have no complaints or symptoms. It can reveal changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or physician identify them on an exam.
Mammography is site-specific imaging which uses a very low dose X-Ray to produce a detailed image of the breast tissue. A diagnostic mammogram is used when a patient has had an abnormal screening mammogram, or when symptoms such as a lump, breast pain or nipple discharge are present.
At CRL Imaging, all our mammography equipment is high quality digital technology. While digital mammography still relies on X-Ray to produce the image, it can be viewed on a monitor similar to a digital camera. Images may also be printed on film if needed.
The American Cancer Society, American College of Radiology, Society of Breast Imaging, and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, all recommend that women have yearly mammograms beginning at age 40. Women at high risk may benefit from starting earlier.
About the Procedure
Digital mammography is a simple, quick, safe routine way to examine the breast for any abnormalities.
Before scheduling a mammogram, discuss any new findings or problems with your doctor. In addition, inform your doctor of any prior surgeries, hormone use, and family or personal history of breast cancer.
Do not schedule your mammogram during the week before your menstrual cycle if your breasts are usually tender during this time. The best time for a mammogram is the week following your menstrual cycle. If you are or have recently been breast-feeding, we recommend waiting 6 months from the time you finish to schedule your mammogram. Always inform your doctor or radiologic technologist if there is any possibility you are pregnant.
If possible, please obtain prior mammograms so they are available to us at the time of your appointment.
The day of your appointment:
- Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts. These can appear on the mammogram and be mistaken for calcifications. Calcifications are tiny flecks of calcium — like grains of salt — in the soft tissue of the breast that can sometimes indicate the presence of an early breast cancer.
- Describe any breast symptoms or problems to the technologist performing your exam.
- If your breasts are normally tender, you may take a mild pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen one hour prior to your exam.
During the Procedure
During your mammogram, a certified mammography technologist will position your breast on a platform and gently compress the tissue with a plastic paddle. The technologist will reposition your breast between images. The routine images are a top-to-bottom and an angled side view. The process will be repeated for each breast. Additional views are necessary for patients with breast implants. The examination process should take about fifteen minutes. You can plan on total time required for paperwork, exam, and review of the images to be approximately 30 minutes.
A board-certified radiologist will interpret the scan and send a report to your referring physician within 24 hours. Any finding, which requires immediate attention, will be relayed to your referring physician by phone. You will receive a letter in the mail with the results of your mammogram in approximately one week. If any additional images are needed, a member of our staff will call to schedule the extra views.