What is Mammography?
Mammography is a specific type of imaging that uses a low-dose x-ray system for examination of the breasts. It plays a central part in early detection of breast cancers because it can show changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them.
Current guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the American Cancer Society (ACS), the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) recommend screening mammography every year for women, beginning at age 40.
On the day of the test……
- Inform your doctor of any prior surgeries, hormone use, and family or personal history of breast cancer.
- Do not schedule your mammogram for the week before your period if your breasts are usually tender during this time. The best time is one week following your period.
- Please wear comfortable clothing while coming for the test.
- Please do not bring valuables such as jewelry and credit cards.
- Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder, or lotion under your arms or on your breasts on the day of the exam. These can appear on the x-ray film as calcium spots.
- Describe any breast symptoms or problems to the technologist performing the exam.
- Please bring any old mammograms, if you have, for the comparative study with the previous one(s).
- Your Mammography is performed by a registered technician.
- The images will be interpreted by a board-certified radiologist.
How is the test performed?
A specially qualified radiologic technologist will position you to image your breast. The breast is first placed on a special platform and compressed with a paddle.
The technologist will go behind a glass shield while making the x-ray exposure, which will send a beam of x-rays through the breast to the film behind the plate, thus exposing the film.
You will be asked to change positions slightly between images. The routine views are a top-to-bottom view and a side view. The process is repeated for the other breast.The examination process should take about half an hour.
When the mammography is completed you will be asked to wait until the technologist examines the images to determine if more are needed.
After the test…….
You will be able to resume your usual activities. Date and time for the collection of the report shall be communicated to you. Your physician will discuss the test results with you.
Are there any risks associated with the test?
You will feel pressure on the breast as it is squeezed by the compressor. Some women with sensitive breasts may experience discomfort. If this is the case, schedule the procedure when your breasts are least tender.
The technologist will apply compression in gradations. Be sure to inform the technologist if pain occurs as compression is increased. If discomfort is significant, less compression will be used.
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