A routine procedure, mammography is a breast cancer screening that uses x-ray to detect abnormalities in your breast tissue. Learn about the science, the benefits, and the experience.
What is mammography?
Mammography uses x-ray technology to allow doctors to check your breasts for lesions, abnormalities, and breast cancer. Our newest type of mammography, the digital 3D or tomosynthesis mammogram—which we use for all of our patients, regardless of symptoms or risk—captures individual layers of your breast tissue in slices (or cross-sections) that doctors can flip through like a book. The results of mammography are known as mammograms.
Consult with your physician about your specific risk factors for cancer, and at what age you should start getting tested. For women with dense breast tissue (who are often in a higher risk bracket for cancer), it may be especially beneficial to add other 3D imaging tests (like MRI) to your annual mammogram. Check with your insurance provider about coverage—and alert your doctor if you’re concerned about cost.
What should I expect from this test?
A mammogram is a quick and easy outpatient procedure that requires no special preparation—except to avoid scheduling it during your menstrual cycle, when your breasts may be naturally swollen or sore.
You’ll be asked to undress from the waist up, wear a gown, and stand in front of the mammography machine. A skilled technologist will then help you place your breasts, one at a time, between two plastic plates. The plates slowly tighten down to press the breasts flat, just long enough for the technician to snap some pictures. Some people experience a slight discomfort at the moment of peak-squeeze, but rest assured that this is a minor, non-invasive experience that varies greatly by individual. A day or two of soreness afterward is also common, but no more than you’d expect from your period.
During this process, our technicians are close-at-hand, ready to assist in whatever you might need to feel more comfortable. Let us know if we can answer any of your questions, or help you address any concerns.
After your mammogram, we’ll help you gather your things so you can dress and be on your way.
On the same day as your mammogram, our radiologists will immediately send the images over to your physician, so they can review the images and be in touch directly with the results.