Mammogram images help your doctor spot cancerous changes in your breast. When those changes are found, they can be treated. That means mammograms could help save your life.
Since mammograms play such an important role in a woman's health, it's equally important for women to find mammogram providers they can trust. You can find that, right here in Asheboro, at Randolph Health.
In our Breast Center, we offer two types of mammograms: screening mammograms and diagnostic mammograms.
Screening mammograms: Finding breast cancer
Mammogram screenings can be used to check for breast cancer in women who have no symptoms of the disease. The results of these tests could help your doctor to find cancers early, when they are a little easier to treat.
Mammogram screening schedules vary from woman to woman, depending on her risk factors. But the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that women start talking with their doctors about breast cancer screening by the time they reach age 40. And women ages 45 to 54 should have mammograms every year, the ACS notes.
Digital mammograms give radiologists a crisp, clear view of breast tissue—while exposing patients to a smaller amount of radiation when compared to traditional mammograms. Digital screening mammograms are especially good at early breast cancer detection in women who:
- Are under 50.
- Are premenopausal.
- Have dense breasts.
During a screening mammogram, a qualified technologist will position your breast on the machine and apply compression from the machine. The compression spreads out the breast tissue so that all of the tissue appears in the mammogram. You should expect pressure from the compression, and women who have sensitive breasts may feel discomfort.
Diagnostic mammograms: Diagnosing breast cancer
When screening mammograms highlight an area of concern, diagnostic mammography is a prudent next step. The goal of diagnostic mammography is to pinpoint the exact size and location of the breast abnormality.
The machines we use for diagnostic mammography are the same as those we use for screening tests, but the approach is different. In diagnostic mammography, additional views of the breast are taken, as opposed to the two views typically taken with screening mammography.
When your diagnostic mammogram is complete, your technician will share the results with you before you head home. If your diagnostic mammogram didn't indicate that you have breast cancer, you might be asked to return for a follow-up mammogram in six months. But if the diagnostic mammogram suggested that your breast changes could be due to cancer, you might be referred for a breast mammogram or a breast biopsy.
Our technicians are compassionate professionals with a gift for clear communication. They'll explain your results in words you can understand, and you'll have a chance to ask all of your questions.
What makes 3D Mammography (officially known as Breast Tomosynthesis) Different?
With 2D digital mammography, we are able to see is a single, flat image. With a 3D mammogram, multiple images of the breast tissue are obtained, which are then combined into one image set.
Studies have shown that 3D mammography reduces callback rates in breast screenings by up to 40% and it also has a 40% increased sensitivity for detecting small invasive cancers when they are still at a size and stage where they can be effectively treated.
The advantage of breast tomosynthesis, particularly in women with dense breast tissue, is that the radiologist can scroll through the dense tissues and find smaller abnormalities that might be hidden on the standard 2D mammogram.
Who Should Consider 3D Mammography?
3D mammography may be particularly helpful for women with dense breast tissue on their mammograms and those with a significantly increased risk of breast cancer (a strong family history of breast cancer and/or ovarian cancer or women with the breast cancer gene). 3D mammography may allow the radiologist (the physician who interprets the mammogram) to detect smaller cancers and ones that would otherwise be hidden in the dense breast tissue.
3D mammography is a giant leap forward in mammogram technology. Screening mammography with x-ray film became widely performed in the U.S. in the 1980s. Digital mammography became available in the early 2000s. Breast tomosynthesis (3D mammography) is the first step forward since digital. It allows the radiologist to be more accurate and fewer women are called back from their screening mammogram.
How to Prepare for a Mammogram
Whether you need a screening mammogram or a diagnostic mammogram, there are things you can do to help the test run smoothly:
- Do not schedule your mammogram for the week before menstruation, especially if you have a tendency to feel tenderness during this time. Generally, the week after your cycle is the best time to have a mammogram.
- Discuss any new findings or problems in your breasts with your doctor, as well as any prior surgeries, hormone use or family history of breast cancer.
- Take note of any symptoms you are feeling and describe them to the technologist.
- Obtain prior mammograms, if possible, for the radiologist to compare with the new images.
- Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts on the day of the exam, as they can appear on your mammogram and complicate the results.
- Before the exam, you will be asked to remove all jewelry and clothing from the waist up. You will be given a gown that opens in the front.
- If you have breast implants, please let us know when you make your appointment so we can optimize your exam.