A mammogram is a low dosage x-ray of each breast that is carefully evaluated by a radiologist. Mammography can reveal both harmless and cancerous growths when they are too small to be felt by you or your physician.
The American Cancer Society endorses mammography, along with yearly physical examinations and monthly self-examinations, as the most effective means of detecting breast cancer at its earliest and most treatable stage. Generally, mammography can reveal benign and cancerous growths before you or your physician can feel them. If detected at the earliest stage, breast cancer has a five-year survival rate of over 95 percent, as small breast cancers are more treatable and can be removed before they spread to other parts of the body.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in American women. Unfortunately, 70% of women have no identifying risk factors. The American Cancer Society recommends mammography as a life saving tool for screening women without symptoms for breast cancer.
An annual screening mammogram is a low dose x-ray of each breast used to detect changes in women who have no signs or symptoms of breast cancer. It usually involves two views per breast. Mammograms make it possible to detect tumors that cannot be felt or microcalcifications (tiny deposits of calcium in the breast) that sometimes indicate the presence of breast cancer. Usually, the exam is performed with a specially trained technologist, and within 24 to 48 hours, a radiologist will read the exam and issue a report to your physician. At the same time, you will receive written notification of the results via mail.
A diagnostic mammogram is performed when a patient has a physical sign or symptom, that the patient or the referring physician has noticed as new; or to evaluate changes found during a screening mammogram, or to view breast tissue when it is difficult to obtain a screening mammogram because of special circumstances. Signs of breast cancer may include a lump, pain, skin thickening, nipple discharge, or a change in breast size or shape. Typically a diagnostic mammogram takes longer than a screening mammogram because it involves special views in order to image the breast from different angles and/or magnify a questionable area to produce a detailed picture that can help the doctor make an accurate diagnosis. Upon completion of the exam, the patient will meet with the radiologist to discuss the findings.
The simple, routine exam usually takes 15 to 20 minutes. Each breast is gently compressed during the examinations and a low dosage X-ray is obtained for the radiologist to evaluate.
Although the compression may be slightly uncomfortable for a very short period of time, good compression is essential for the radiologist to see all the tissue inside the breast. The radiologist needs to be able to examine all breast tissue, including the tissue along the chest wall and underneath the armpit. After carefully positioning your breast on the mammography machine, the technologist will compress your breast for about 5 seconds to obtain the x-ray image. You can anticipate having at least 2 views per breast.
You may be called back for additional views, but it should be noted that these studies usually confirm normal tissue.
Typically your results will be sent to you in the mail.
The benefits of early cancer detection far outweigh the very small risk associated with the extremely low-level X-ray used in mammography. The mammography equipment at Radiology Regional is specifically designed for and dedicated to mammography. It is calibrated regularly and board-certified radiological physicists monitor quality control. Our staff and equipment are fully accredited by the American College of Radiology.
*American Cancer Society
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