What is a Mammogram?
Mammograms are performed to screen healthy men and women for signs of breast cancer. It is also used to evaluate someone who has symptoms of a breast disease, such as a lump, nipple discharge, breast pain not associated with menstrual cycle, dimpling of the skin on the breast, or retraction of the nipple.
Screening mammograms are important for early breast cancer detection. 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 to 2 years for women age 40 and older.
Guidelines from the American College of Physicians, however, debate whether women with a low risk for breast cancer should begin mammogram screening at age 40.
In addition to mammography, clinical breast exams (where the clinician palpates with the fingers) and monthly breast self-examinations are important for breast cancer screening. Women age 20 and older should receive clinical breast exams every 3 years; women age 40 and older should receive clinical breast exams every year. The American Cancer Society recommends that all women age 20 and older perform monthly breast self examination.
Things to do before your Mammogram:
- If your most recent mammogram was performed at another facility, we will probably need you to sign a release at the time of your appointment. After your prior films have been reviewed and compared, they will be returned by mail to the original institution. These previous exams are very helpful to the radiologist to help detect subtle changes in the breast.
- If you experience breast tenderness, try to schedule your mammogram after your period.
- Patients should schedule their exams 12 months apart unless there is a breast problem or follow-up films are required.
- If you are currently breast feeding or have been breast feeding, it is important to wait three months to give the breast time to return to normal. This will allow the best exam possible for you. However, if you are experiencing a problem with your breast, please contact your physician immediately.
- Allow 15 minutes for your exam. Allow longer if you are having additional or special views performed.
- Do NOT use deodorant, talcum powder or body lotion under your arms or on your breasts. These products can make your mammogram hard to read. If you are wearing any of these products when you come in, please tell your technologist. We have towelettes and deodorant available for your use.
- Wear a two-piece outfit so that you only have to remove your top. Gowns are available.
- Relax and let your technologist know of any concerns or questions you may have.
Siemens MAMMOMAT Inspiration
Digital Mammography is located on the second floor of our 1118 Hampshire Street building and our Pittsfield Affiliate.