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Breast Health Frequently Asked Questions

In the Breast Center at Randolph Health, we've helped hundreds of women to combat breast cancer. And in our work, we've heard all sorts of questions about how breast cancer screening works and why it's important. These are a few of the common questions we've heard, along with our most comprehensive answers.

What breast cancer symptoms should I be aware of?

Common breast cancer symptoms that should prompt a visit to a doctor include:

  • Any new, hard lump or thickening in any part of the breast.
  • Change in breast size or shape.
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin on the breast.
  • Swelling, redness or warmth in the breast that does not go away.
  • Breast pain in one spot that does not vary with your monthly cycle.
  • Pulling in of the nipple.
  • Nipple discharge that starts suddenly and appears only in one breast.
  • An itchy, sore or scaling area on one nipple.

What might boost my breast cancer risk?

The following characteristics have been associated with a higher breast cancer risk:

  • One or more first-degree relatives with breast cancer
  • Menstruation prior to age 13
  • Childbearing after 30 or no childbearing at all
  • Menopause after age 55
  • Past or present use of postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy (including estrogens and/or progestins)
  • Previous ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) or atypical hyperplasia
  • Alcohol use (one or more drinks daily)
  • Past or present use of tobacco
  • Diet low in fruits and vegetables

Can I get a mammogram that doesn't compress my breast?

No. There is not a way to perform a mammogram without compression. It is important because it spreads the breast tissue out—which allows your radiologist and your oncologist to see breast details clearly. Compression also reduces the amount of radiation that you receive during a mammogram.

How do I schedule my mammogram?

Call 336.328.3333 or ask your physician to refer you. Appointments are Monday through Friday, and evening appointments are available.

Will I receive the results of my mammogram today?

If you are here for a screening mammogram, you will receive your results in the mail within seven to 10 business days. If you are coming in because you have a problem with your breasts or the radiologist has recommended that you return for a diagnostic mammogram, then the radiologist will speak to you about the results of your tests.

How long will my mammogram appointment take?

A screening mammogram appointment should take about 15 minutes after you have registered. A diagnostic mammogram could take up to an hour after you have registered. If the results from your diagnostic mammogram indicate the need for additional tests, such as an ultrasound or a biopsy, then you could be here for up to three hours.

Why do I have to remove my deodorant or powder before having my mammogram done?

The particles from deodorant and powder can mimic microcalcifications on the images. Microcalcifications can be indicative of breast cancer.

I had my last mammogram somewhere else. Do I need to have my films sent here?

Ideally, you'll bring your mammogram with you to your appointment, so we won't have to delay your results. If that isn't possible, we can send for them. Be aware that it can take up to two weeks to receive the films.

What does it mean if I get called back for a diagnostic mammogram after my screening mammogram?

Many mammograms indicate abnormal results. Typically, those abnormal results can be clarified or explained with different mammogram views, which better show the breast tissue in question. An ultrasound might also be performed as a follow-up, to ensure no breast cancer cells are found.

If those follow-up test results still seem unusual, we can perform breast biopsies to rule out cancer. The majority of breast biopsies are benign. But until we do the evaluation, we won't know whether your unusual mammogram results are due to cancer or something else.

My physician found a lump in my breast. Can I come anytime for my mammogram?

No. You will be scheduled for a diagnostic mammogram on a Monday, Wednesday or Thursday, when there is a radiologist present. This is so the radiologist can view your images and make sure that you have everything that needs to be done for an accurate diagnosis before you leave that day.

What special breast cancer tools do you offer?

We have a stereotactic breast biopsy unit. You'll lie down on your stomach, and your breast will go into the hole in the table so the radiologist and technologist can obtain specimens of the area concerned. Compression is used for this procedure in order to maintain stability.

Why is it important to have a breast exam done by my physician? Doesn't a mammogram show everything?

A breast exam done by a physician can help to detect some types of breast cancer tumors not found with mammography. But clinical breast examinations do have limitations, because very tiny or deeply situated nodules (tumors) cannot always be felt, even by a doctor. The combination of clinical breast exam and mammography is currently recommended as the best approach to early detection of breast cancer.

When should I have my first mammogram?

The American Cancer Society recommends that women discuss their mammography screening schedule with their doctors. When women start screening, and how often screening tests are performed, depends on a woman's health, breast cancer risks and preferences.

My doctor said I need a spot compression view. What is that?

A spot compression view is a specialized picture of a specific area of the breast. The compression paddle is smaller and focused on a specific area of the breast.

A mammogram always hurts me. Why can't I have an ultrasound instead?

A breast ultrasound is not a breast cancer screening tool. Ultrasound cannot always visualize everything that is seen on a mammogram. Breast ultrasound is used to investigate an abnormality detected by screening or diagnostic mammography or during a physician-performed breast exam.