Mammography is the single most effective method for detecting breast cancer in its earliest stages. The American Cancer Society recommends a baseline study at 35-40 years of age; then every year for women over 40 years of age. The three key elements to early detection are: monthly self-exam, annual clinical exam by your physician and a mammogram at the recommended intervals.
A mammogram is a special image of the breast tissue. It is performed by qualified personnel on equipment designed specifically for this purpose. The lowest possible amount of radiation exposure is used to produce the highest quality imaging.
A routine mammogram is performed with images of both breasts obtained from different angles. In order to separate the complex structures in the breast, fairly significant compression must be used. Although this may be uncomfortable,
it should not be painful. Many of our imaging locations use "soft MammoPads" to make your mammogram more comfortable. Communicate with your technologist to let her know how you are feeling. Keep in mind that more compression means a more detailed and accurate study. Questionable areas seen on the routine mammogram are usually benign (not cancer). The question can be resolved in a number of ways. The best way is to compare the current study to a previous mammogram. Thus, it is very important for you to help the facility locate any previous mammogram images from other locations. If the radiologist thinks the questionable area is just a combination of shadows, we can ask for a spot compression or additional views, which often separates the tissues and clarifies the region. At times the radiologist may recommend an ultrasound of the breast to evaluate a nodule. The ultrasound helps to determine if something is a solid mass or a fluid filled mass. Spot compression, magnification and ultrasound recommendations usually require a return visit for completion.