A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. When a patient gets a mammogram, they should make sure that the American College of Radiology has accredited the radiology equipment.
Mammography is the relatively painless procedure that is performed by a specially trained radiology technologist. The technician will guide the patient through the steps of the procedure and can answer many of the questions regarding the procedure. The technician will perform the mammography by compressing the breast between two plates attached to a specially designed X-ray machine. The breast is then “photographed” from two separate angles and the results are examined by the radiologist. Any discomfort the patient may experience is most likely the result of pressure exerted on the breast by the plates. The pressure is necessary to achieve the highest possible detail while minimizing radiation exposure.
The results of the mammogram will show the normal features of the breast and may reveal suspicious areas that require further investigation. Even if the results are not suspicious, a physician may recommend further investigation based solely on the physical examination, as a small percentage of cancers are undetected by mammography. Occasionally women who undergo mammography require magnification or compression views. These magnification views enable the radiologist to better view tiny calcium deposits called microcalcifications or small masses that are undetectable during clinical breast examination. Often, a magnified or compression view of a suspicious area eliminates it as an area of concern and the radiologist recommends only follow-up. Sometimes, the radiologist may recommend a follow-up mammogram in several months to make sure the area is stable, not changing.
Do not use powder, deodorant, lotion or perfume the day of the examination.
Breast Density – Breast Cancer Screening!
The American Cancer Society, American College of Radiology, Society of Breast Imaging and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, among others, recommend that all women have yearly mammograms beginning at age 40. Women at high risk may benefit from starting earlier.