What is a mammogram?

This test is an x-ray of the breasts used to detect breast abnormalities and diagnose breast disease. Genesis also offers 3D mammography to its patients. 3D mammography, or tomosynthesis, uses low-dose x-ray systems and computer reconstructions to create three-dimensional images of the breasts to aid in early detection and diagnosis.

How should I prepare for my mammogram?

To prepare for your exam, please do the following:

  • Do not wear deodorant, powder, cream or ointment on the breast or under your arms the day of your test.
  • If you are still having periods, try to schedule your mammogram one week after your period ends. Your breasts are less tender at this time.
  • Please allow 30 minutes for the test.

What should I expect during my screening mammography?

Visits for screening mammograms are typically very brief, usually no more than 30 minutes.

  • First, we will ask you questions about your personal and family health history to help assess your overall breast cancer risk.
  • Then, you’ll be escorted to an exam room, asked to undress from the waist up and change into a gown.

Imaging: The technologist will typically take two mammogram (x-ray) images of each breast.

  • The breast is gently compressed in the mammogram machine to take these images.
  • The compression only lasts for a few seconds for each picture.
  • While some patients find this compression uncomfortable, it is necessary to get the clearest images possible.

When the technologist is finished taking your images, you can change and leave. A radiologist will review your x-rays and send your doctor a report. You will receive a letter in the mail with your mammogram results. The results will also be available in your online My Genesis patient portal.

If your images are normal, you’re done. You’ll receive a reminder when it’s time to come in for your regular screening mammogram next year.

If anything abnormal is found on your mammogram, the Center for Breast Health will contact you to set up a follow-up appointment. See more below.

Things to Keep In Mind:

  • Occasionally, women get suspicious findings after their first mammogram. But, that’s often because their doctor doesn’t have previous exam results for comparison.
  • Suspicious findings usually aren’t cancer. They may just be cysts, dense tissue or the result of an unclear image.
  • The majority of women will have benign changes in their breasts caused by hormones or the aging process.
  • Through yearly mammograms, these changes can be tracked and monitored. Previous images will be used as a resource to monitor any changes in the breast and flag suspicious changes.

Abnormalities in your mammogram:

  • If you have a palpable lump or if there is an abnormality found on your screening mammogram, you will be scheduled for a more detailed evaluation.
  • This evaluation will include another mammogram, an ultrasound, or both.
  • Your images will be reviewed by the radiologist during your appointment and the results given to you in person during your visit.
  • If necessary, we will schedule a breast biopsy, a procedure to remove a small sample of breast tissue for laboratory testing, to further identify and diagnose any suspicious finding.
  • The lab report from the breast biopsy, usually ready within a few days after the procedure, can help determine normal results and benign breast changes, or whether breast cancer is present.