Mammography (Screening | Diagnostic)

What is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is a specific type of imaging that uses a low-dose x-ray system and specialized computer system for examination of the breasts.  Most medical experts agree that successful treatment of breast cancer often is linked to early diagnosis.  Mammography plays a key 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.

Who is a candidate for a Mammogram?

Anyone (yes, men too) can have a mammogram. Current guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services, the American Cancer Society, the American Medical Association, and the American College of Radiology recommend screening mammography every year for women, beginning at age 40.

The National Cancer Institute adds that women who have had breast cancer and those who are at increased risk due to a genetic history of breast cancer should seek expert medical advice about whether they should begin screening before age 40 and about the frequency of screening. Other candidates include men or women that have felt a suspicious lump or experience a bloody discharge.

Will I need to prepare for the exam?

It is recommended that you do NOT schedule your mammogram for the week before your period if your breasts are usually tender during this time.  Always inform your doctor or X-ray Technologist if there is ANY possibility that you are pregnant.  Please also let us know if you have implants as the exam takes additional time.

Please do not wear any deodorant, talcum powder, or lotion under your arms, or around or under your breasts on the day of the exam.  If possible, obtain prior mammograms (if done elsewhere) for the Radiologist to use for comparison. 

What will I experience?

A specially qualified, Registered Mammography Technologist will perform your examination and can answer any questions you may have. Before the examination you will be asked to remove all clothing above the waist, and given a gown that opens in the front.

For the examination, the breast is placed on a support surface and compressed using a clear Plexiglas paddle. We use a soft pad on our support surface for your comfort!

Breast compression is necessary in order to:

  • Spread out the tissue so that small abnormalities will not be obscured.
  • Decrease the x-ray dose needed.
  • Hold the breast still to eliminate blurring caused by motion.

Some women find this compression uncomfortable. Compression is NOT dangerous, but may cause some temporary skin discoloration, and some mild aching.  Please remember that the discomfort of compression is short lived; undetected cancer is not.

You will be asked to change positions slightly between images.  The same process will be repeated for both breasts.  The examination process should take about 1/2 hour.  The technologist will be able to check your images for technical completeness immediately.

What happens next?

Your images will be analyzed by the Technologist and sent to the Radiologist’s computer for interpretation. Your images will be interpreted by a State of New Mexico licensed and board certified Physician, Radiologist, specialized in radiology interpretation. A report will be recorded and transcribed then sent to your Physician who will explain the results to you.

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