What is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is an x-ray of your breast. Mammography produces mammograms, a black and white x-ray image of your breasts that doctors examine to detect signs of cancer.

What is a screening mammogram?

The screening mammogram is used to screen patients who have no sign or symptoms of breast cancer or abnormalities. Screening mammograms are used to detect changes in breast tissue and the goal of screening mammograms is to detect cancer early before there are any signs or symptoms.

What is a diagnostic mammogram?

The diagnostic mammogram helps to diagnose suspicious breast changes such as a lump, pain, unusual skin appearance, nipple thickening or nipple discharge. If a screening mammogram has suspicious results, a diagnostic mammogram is usually the next step.

What are the risks of mammograms?

With any procedure, there are some risks but with mammograms, the risk is small.  Best practices are for regular screenings.  Some of the risks are as follows:

  • Low-dose radiation exposure
  • In younger women, mammograms can be hard to read
  • Screening mammograms can’t detect all cancers
  • Not all cancers found by mammograms are curable

Where and how does the mammogram get taken?

  • Go to an imaging center or hospital for your mammogram, though in some cases your OB/GYN may provide mammogram service at their office. Make sure that the facility is certified by the Food and Drug Administration.
  • Try to schedule your mammogram when your breasts are not likely to be tender.
  • You will be asked to remove your bra and outer clothing and put on a hospital gown. You will stand before the mammogram machine while your breasts are compressed, one at a time, between two firm surfaces to spread out the breast tissue.
  • Once done, the mammogram will go to a radiologist and your OB/GYN to be examined. Your OB/GYN will let you know if the x-ray is normal or if there is a problem and you need further diagnostic testing.

When will I get results?

In most cases, your OB/GYN will call within a few days to give you results. Federal law requires that you get results within 30 days.