It is estimated that 1 woman in 8 will develop breast cancer during her lifetime and the probability of developing breast cancer increases with age. Breast cancer cannot be prevented, but it can be detected at an early, treatable stage. Mammography is the most sensitive method for the detection of breast cancer.
Mammography is an x-ray examination of the breast tissue. The image produced by this process is called a mammogram. Although mammography does involve a small amount of radiation, it can help detect problems within your breast tissue long before they can be felt. Hence, the benefits of regularly scheduled mammography exams far outweigh any risks.
Before Your Exam
Tracking changes in your breast tissue is valuable and very important to the mammography process. If you have had previous mammograms done at another facility or office it is important that you get and bring your last mammogram. This lets the doctor (radiologist) compare the two.
It is important that you inform the technologist about:
- any past breast biopsies or surgery
- if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant
- if you have breast implants
- if you have any scars or moles on or near your breasts
- if you are breast feeding
On the morning of your visit, wash your breasts and underarms, but do not use deodorant, powder, or perfume because it degrades the images. Wear a blouse or sweater that you can remove easily.
During Your Exam
You will need to undress from the waist up. The technologist will position your breasts to get the best results. During the exam, each of your breasts will be compressed. You may feel some discomfort, but compression helps to get the most complete x-ray image. Remain as relaxed as you can during the compression. Know that any discomfort will be very brief.
After Your Exam
You can return to your normal activities right away. The mammogram images will be viewed by a radiologist (a physician who specializes in diagnostic imaging). The results of your exam will be sent to your referring physician.