Digital Mammography, currently the best screening tool for detecting breast cancer, does not always detect all breast cancers. It is equally important to perform breast self-examinations and schedule regular checkups with your physician. Please keep an accurate record of when and where prior mammograms were performed.
What is a mammogram?
Mammography is an X-ray examination of your breast. Because of the structure of the breast, it is necessary to compress the breast to obtain high quality images with less radiation to you. As a result of this compression, you may experience some level of discomfort during your mammogram. It is important for you to understand that compression is not dangerous and in no way damages your breast tissue.
What happens after the mammogram?
The mammography technologist will review the images to ensure the technical quality. A radiologist will later analyze your screening mammogram and compare it to previous mammograms. The radiologist decides whether there are any potential abnormalities on this set of images. If there are any areas of concern on your mammogram, additional imaging of the breast will be needed.
What if additional imaging is required?
You will be contacted if additional imaging is needed. At this time, the significance of the possible abnormality is unknown. When you return for your diagnostic mammogram appointment, the radiologist will be present to interpret your images and can answer any questions that you may have at this time. You will be informed of the results that day before you leave.
What should I do if I require further imaging?
First, don't panic. Many times, the diagnostic mammogram images will ultimately show no persistent abnormality and reassure the radiologist that there is no evidence of cancer on your mammogram. You should contact your doctor's office to obtain a prescription and/or referral. Bring your prescription to the appointment. Be sure to contact your insurance carrier before your diagnostic mammogram appointment to inquire about your responsibilities for co-payments and/or deductibles. Please try to leave your morning/afternoon free of other appointments to allow enough time to complete the process, which can take a few hours.
Does it Hurt?
During a mammogram, the technologist places each of your breasts, in turn, between two plastic plates to flatten them. This can be a bit uncomfortable, but the flatter your breasts, the more accurate the picture. This discomfort doesn't last long, the whole screening takes about 15 minutes.