MAMMOGRAPHY

What is Mammography?

Mammography is the process of using low-energy X-rays to examine the human breast, which is used as a diagnostic and screening tool. The goal of mammography is the early detection of breast cancer, ideally as early as two years before a lump can be felt. Digital mammography has become the gold-standard for breast cancer screening and is one of the most recent advances for breast cancer detection.

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.

Mammography is the only screening method that is consistently proven to reduce breast cancer deaths. In fact, it is the major reason breast cancer deaths have declined by 30% since 1990, when screening guidelines were enforced in the U.S. In addition, early detection through mammography gives women more treatment options with reduced surgery, better cosmetic outcomes, and often eliminates the need for harsh therapies. And since breast cancer found in women under age 50 is often more aggressive, it’s imperative to schedule your mammography every 12 months.

How should I prepare for a Mammogram?

  • Please bring a disc or films from any prior mammograms, if done at a facility other than Touchstone Medical Imaging. If you would like Touchstone Medical Imaging to request these on your behalf, please fill out our medical records release form (please do so 1 month prior to your appointment – it could take up to 3 weeks to obtain films from out of state).
  • On the day of the examination, do not wear talcum powder, deodorant, lotion or perfume under your arms or on your breasts. These substances can cause artifacts on your mammogram making the images harder to interpret. Deodorant will be available to you after your exam.
  • Wear two-piece clothing so that you only have to remove your top and bra for the examination
  • To help minimize discomfort during your exam, schedule your mammogram during the two weeks following your menstrual cycle (when breasts are less tender).
  • Please bring any pertinent history to your appointment: prior surgeries, hormone use, family or personal history of breast cancer.

If you have had a previous mammogram at a facility other than Touchstone Medical Imaging, please let us know so that we may obtain these films. It is extremely important for the radiologist to have your prior films for comparison, as it enhances the doctor’s ability to detect a subtle change or small abnormality on your current mammogram. Availability of prior films at your appointment also decreases the length of time it takes for you to get your results.

What should I expect?

Your mammogram will be performed by a mammography-certified, female technologist. After you check in, you will be escorted to a private dressing room, where you will be asked to undress from the waist up. You will be given a gown that opens in the front. The technologist will ask you several questions, so she can better understand your history and/or any problems you may be having.

What should I wear for my mammogram?

Wear a shirt with shorts, pants, or a skirt. This way, you can undress from the waist up and leave your shorts, pants, or skirt on when you get your mammogram.

Don’t wear any deodorant, perfume, lotion, or powder under your arms or on your breasts on the day of your mammogram appointment. These things can make shadows show up on your mammogram.

Mammography Benefits

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.

Screening digital mammography is the only screening method that is consistently proven to reduce breast cancer deaths. If breast cancer is detected in its early stages the chances of treatment resulting in a cure increases significantly. Starting at age 40, women should have a screening mammogram every year; including women with no family history of breast cancer. And since breast cancer found in women under the of 50 is often more aggressive, it’s imperative to schedule your mammogram every 12 months.

  • Early detection of small breast cancers by screening mammography greatly improves a woman’s chances for successful treatment. If breast cancer is caught and treated while it is still confined to the breast ducts, the cure rate is close to 100%
  • Mammography correctly identifies about 85 to 90 percent of women over 50 who truly have breast cancer.
  • Mammography can discover a lump two years before it is felt.
  • Breast cancers found by screening mammography of women in their forties were smaller and at an earlier stage (with less spread to lymph nodes or other organs) than cancers found in women not having mammography.

Additional testing

Approximately 10% of women are called back from screening mammograms for additional testing. This is also referred to as a diagnostic mammogram. This percentage is slightly higher for women 40-49 years of age because the chance of a false positive result is higher among younger women and also with women that have dense breasts. (Most women younger than 50 have dense breasts so there is overlap among these groups.)

Most diagnostic mammograms conclude with normal results, but it is necessary in order to complete the mammographic evaluation and make an accurate diagnosis. In some cases, a biopsy or follow-up test in 6 months may be advised.

HOW DO I MAKE AN APPOINTMENT?

Screening Mammogram

If you would like to make an appointment for your screening mammogram, please call one of our mammogram sites (view locations here). You DO NOT need an order from your primary care physician for a screening mammogram. Touchstone requires a treating physician to send your screening mammogram results to.

Diagnostic Mammogram

Your doctor needs to make your appointment for a diagnostic mammogram. Please have your referring physician write an order for you to bring to our facility, or they can fax or call to make an appointment on your behalf.

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