About Diagnostic and Screening Mammograms
At the Breast Center, we use 3D mammograms to effectively pinpoint the size, shape and location of potential breast abnormalities. Mammography is a detailed radiograph of the breast. It creates an image of the tissue inside the breast and is used to identify lumps, tumors, or other abnormalities that are too small to find by touch alone. A screening mammogram is a routine test to look at breast tissue without any physical abnormalities or symptoms. Standard images of the breast are obtained. It can detect a cancerous or precancerous finding before it can be found on clinical examination. It will also serve as a baseline for future mammograms. A diagnostic mammogram is done to evaluate physical findings or symptoms noted by the patient or her physician. Standard images are obtained as well as ones focused on the area in question. To obtain a good picture, the breast is compressed firmly to keep it from moving. Sometimes the patient’s breast is repositioned and additional pictures are taken – do not be concerned. It is common for patients to need additional studies such as ultrasound or breast MRI.
To make an appointment for breast health imaging, please call 508-830-3000 and one of our dedicated breast health team members will assist you.
Please find below answers to common frequently asked patient questions about mammograms.
A 3D exam includes both 2D images and tomosynthesis scans. During the tomosynthesis portion of the exam, an X-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over the breast, taking multiple images. A computer then converts the images into a stack of thin layers, allowing the radiologist to review the breast tissue one layer at a time. A 3D exam requires no additional compression and takes just a few seconds longer than a conventional 2D breast cancer screening exam. 3D exams are recommended for women of all ages and breast densities. A 3D exam allows our radiologists to more effectively pinpoint the size, shape and location of abnormalities. This leads to better detection and greater peace of mind for our patients. All of our mammography units at the Breast Center and at our offsite location at Resnik Road offer 3D mammography.
Large clinical studies in the U.S. and Europe have demonstrated the positive benefits of a 3D mammogram.
According to a 2014 study on breast cancer screening using the 3Dexam published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), benefits include:
- A 41% increase in the detection of invasive breast cancers
- A 29% increase in the detection of all breast cancers
- A 15% decrease in women recalled for additional imaging
When you arrive for your appointment, you will be escorted to a private changing area. You will be provided with a gown and asked to remove your clothing from the waist up. You can expect that the appointment will take about 30 minutes. The technologist will ask you to stand in front of the mammogram unit and she will position your breast on the image receptor. A clear plastic paddle will compress your breast tightly to spread the breast tissue and prevent motion. This will provide us with quality images that are best for interpretation. The compression will be tight but should not hurt. The paddle will release automatically when the image has been taken. The technologist will assist in positioning you for the remaining views. We would encourage you to ask questions you may have about your exam. The technologist will be happy to answer them and will try to make you as comfortable as possible.
You will be asked to fill out a patient history and indicate any possible family history of breast cancer. If possible you should try to schedule your mammogram for the week after your menses (period). On the day of the test, do not wear perfume, powder, or deodorant. Perfume, powder, or deodorant can create an artifact that can appear like an abnormality. You will also be asked to remove any jewelry around your neck, so you may want to leave it at home.
No, it does not. Ten percent of all cancers are not found by mammography therefore self-breast exam and physician clinical exam are critical components to breast health for diagnosis and surveillance. However, every woman is different and not all cancers act the same way. The best way to detect breast cancer is by combining your self-breast exam, your doctor’s breast exam, and a mammogram.
Our goal is to contact you within two business days (48 hours) if additional mammographic views are needed. We will set you up with an appointment to come in for additional imaging. Many times the additional mammographic views indicate the area is not of true concern. At other times, they more clearly show an area of abnormality. The Radiologist may recommend another imaging study, and if needed, a biopsy. The results of your breast imaging will be discussed with you before you leave the Center.
Additional imaging, such as breast ultrasound, or breast biopsy may be indicated. This information will be discussed with you at the time of your visit. If a breast biopsy is recommended, we will assist you in scheduling the procedure before you leave the Center.