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What is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast tissue. An x-ray is a type of radiation that can pass through the body and is used to make an image of tissue and bones. A mammogram image shows the detail of breast tissue from two different angles.

A screening mammogram:

  • can find a breast cancer 2 to 3 years before it can be felt by you or your doctor.
  • is the best way to find breast cancer early.
  • uses compression to get the best possible image.

On the day of your mammogram appointment:

Two piece outfit

Wear a two piece outfit.

Do not wear

Do not wear deoderant, talcum powder or lotion on your breasts or underarms.

At a screening mammogram appointment:

  • a female technologist will ask you some health questions.
  • you will need to remove your top and bra for the mammogram.Mammogram
  • each breast is carefully positioned and held firmly between the compression paddle and detector.
  • the breast tissue is spread evenly on the mammogram machine. This is called compression. You may have discomfort, but know that it only lasts for a few seconds.
  • four images will be taken to show the detail of your breast tissue. Each image only lasts for a few seconds.
  • the technologist will check the quality of your mammogram images to be sure that the radiologist (doctor who reviews images) can read them.
  • you may be asked to repeat an image if it is blurry, or the breast needs to be repositioned. This will usually be done before you leave the mammogram room.

Breast compression:

  • is not harmful to your breasts.
  • is used to get a clear image of the breast tissue.
  • reduces the amount of radiation needed for the mammogram.
  • is tolerable for most clients.

After your mammogram appointment:

  • you may experience redness or bruising; this usually disappears in a few days.
  • it is rare, but some women can have some tearing of the thin skin under the breast.
  • if you experience problems that do not go away after a few days, see your healthcare provider.
  • if you have questions about your appointment or results, contact BreastCheck.
  • a radiologist will look at your mammogram images. Within 2 weeks of your mammogram, both you and your healthcare provider will receive your results. Results will be either normal or abnormal.

Screening vs. Diagnostic Mammogram

The type of machine used and the process to get the first four images is the same for a screening or diagnostic mammogram. More images may need to be taken in a diagnostic mammogram to look at a specific area more closely, and different types of tools may be used to compress the tissue in different ways.

Diagnostic vs. Screening Mammogram


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