Mammography is the screening exam of choice for finding breast cancer in its early stages, when cure rates are highest. If a problem is detected, women may also need a diagnostic mammogram or other breast imaging test.
The American Cancer Society recommends that women age 40 and older have annual screening mammograms in order to detect breast cancer even when no symptoms are present.
Screening mammography looks for unsuspected changes in the breast tissue. Diagnostic mammography is utilized when a patient has consulted with her doctor or health care provider, and there is a known change that needs to be investigated.
Regular breast examinations by a health care provider along with proper breast self-examinations also aid in early detection of breast cancer. Your health care provider will be able to give you additional details about these exams, but a general idea of what to expect is provided below.
Screening mammograms – These simple screenings are brief, between 20 – 30 minutes, two images per breast. Women’s breasts are unique with varying shapes, sizes, amounts of fatty tissue, milk glands and milk ducts, and non-cancerous lumps. A baseline mammogram is a woman's first breast screening. It gives doctors something to compare future mammograms against to determine if there are any changes or suspicious findings. Screening mammograms are typically for women who do not have any symptoms or are at a low risk for breast cancer.
Diagnostic mammogram – This mammogram is usually ordered after a radiologist identifies changes from a baseline mammogram or sees something suspicious or abnormal. These mammograms take longer than a regular screening since more images are necessary from additional angles.
3-D mammography – (a.k.a tomosynthesis) Recommended for women with dense breasts or with a family history of breast cancer. Images are taken at the same time as a regular mammogram with the same system. The X-ray arm sweeps in an arc over your breast while taking multiple images in one millimeter slices. It provides a higher accuracy rate.
You should not use deodorant or powder under your arms before having a mammogram.
You should wear a blouse or top that is easy to remove for the exam.
You will be asked to complete a series of questions about your medical history and breast health.
You will also need to notify your technologist if you have breast implants
Mammography is considered a low-level diagnostic imaging (x-ray) exam. Your breasts will be gently but firmly compressed as necessary in order to obtain a clear picture. Breast compression is not dangerous, but can be uncomfortable for some patients. The discomfort is usually brief. You may notice temporary discoloration of the skin after your mammogram due to the compression. This should not be of concern.
Results are available within 24 - 48 hours.
Once the exam is complete, a physician will review the study and dictate a report. This report will be sent to the doctor who ordered your study. We recommend that you call and schedule a follow-up appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss the results.
Typically, the healthcare provider calls, faxes or submits an online request for the mammogram. Then we call you to confirm your appointment date and time. However, if your healthcare provider asks you to schedule your exam, simply visit our Request an Appointment page. We will make sure the exam is timely and convenient and that it meets any special requirements of your insurance carrier and healthcare provider.
When you call, we will need to know which exam your healthcare provider ordered and why. We will also ask you for your insurance information. You will need to pay any co-pay or deductible at the time of the exam. We conveniently file your claim with your insurance provider.
Most of our facilities offer same-day (insurance permitting), evening and weekend appointments. Prior to your appointment, we will give you the estimated total cost, what you will owe at the time of service, and payment options. We will also fax reports and provide images to your healthcare provider.
Your time is important – to you, your family and us. That’s why screening mammograms performed at Carolina Imaging and Durham Diagnostic Imaging generally take less than 30 minutes – less time than a typical doctor’s office visit.
Screening mammograms are the best way to help find breast cancer in its earliest stages, when cure rates are highest. A screening mammogram is for women who do not have significant symptoms. If we find a problem during your screening mammogram, or if you are experiencing unusual symptoms, we may recommend you receive a diagnostic mammogram or other breast imaging procedure to help identify the cause.
Our online request an appointment feature is for patients who would like to schedule a future appointment and is not intended for same day appointments.
If you would like to schedule a mammogram, please click the button below and complete the form. A representative will contact you to collect additional information and arrange your appointment.
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