NEA Baptist Clinic

Breast Care - Mammography

Screening mammograms are important for early breast cancer detection, even when you don't have symptoms. A diagnostic mammogram is used to evaluate changes detected on a screening mammogram. This type of mammogram may be necessary if it is difficult to obtain a clear x-ray with a screening mammogram because of special circumstances, such as the presence of breast implants.

Why is a diagnostic mammogram performed?
The test is performed if a woman has symptoms of a breast disease such as a lump, nipple discharge, breast pain, dimpling of the skin on the breast, or a new retraction of the nipple.

The American Cancer Society recommends mammogram screening every year for all women age 40 and older. The National Cancer Institute recommends mammogram screening every 1-2 years for women age 40 and older.

How is it done?
You will be asked to undress from the waist up and will be given a robe to wear. Mammograms (breast x-rays) are taken of each breast. To take a mammogram the radiographer will position your breast in the x-ray machine then compress it between two x-ray plates to take the picture, which is usually taken from two angles in each breast. You may be asked to hold your breath while the picture is taken. The firm pressure is important so that the picture of your breast is clear. Although it can be rather uncomfortable if you have tender breasts, it only lasts a few seconds and does not harm your breasts. Your whole visit should take about 15-20 minutes including undressing and dressing.

How should I prepare?
Please do not use body talc, deodorant, perfume, powders, or ointments before the examination as the small particles may show up on the x-ray. Please remove all jewelry from the neck. Notify your health care provider (and/or the radiologist) if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

If you have breast implants you can still have a mammogram, but you should phone the screening unit before attending for your appointment. It takes slightly longer to carry out the examination so they need to allocate more time for it. Please also remind the radiographer before she screens you.

When will I know the results?
Within a few days you and your doctor will be sent the results. Most women are found to have normal breasts and will be invited again in one to two years' time.

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