Advantages of Digital Mammography

Advantages of Digital Mammography

Reasons doctors refer patients to Florida Hospital for mammograms fall into two general categories:

  • Screening Mammography
    Mammography plays a key role in the early detection of breast cancer. It can reveal the presence of cancer long before it can be felt or cause symptoms. Current guidelines from the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) recommend screening mammography every year for women, beginning at age 40. Research shows that annual mammograms lead to the early detection of breast cancers, when they are small and more easily treated and cured. Women who have had breast cancer or are at higher risk due to a family history of the disease should talk to their doctor about when and how often they should be screened.
  • Diagnostic Mammography
    Diagnostic mammography refers to the same procedure as screening mammograms, only the scanning is focused on a particular area of interest because the doctor has reason to suspect the presence of cancer or some other abnormality.  It may be that the patient has symptoms (breast lump, pain, skin changes or nipple discharge) or that the findings on her screening mammogram were unclear. About10% of screening mammograms are inconclusive and require follow up with diagnostic mammography. A recommendation for diagnostic mammography is not necessarily a reason for concern. The majority of women who have a diagnostic mammogram are found not to have cancer.

Safety

Studies suggest that exposure to X rays may increase the risk of cancer in some patients. Expose to radiation can cause serious harm to a developing fetus (unborn child). Women who are or suspect that they might be pregnant should inform their doctor and our breast imaging staff.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Before the test

Your doctor or our staff will provide specific instructions prior to your appointment.  Most mammograms don't require any special preparation. For your convenience and to help assure the best outcome, you may be instructed as follows:

  • On the day of your appointment, do not use deodorants, antiperspirants, powders, or lotions under your arms or on your breasts. They can affect the image and make interpretation difficult.
  • It is best not to wear jewelry around your neck; since you will have to remove it. 
  • For the exam, you will need to undress from the waist up. Choose a two-piece outfit to wear to the appointment.

During the test

Before the test begins, remove any necklaces and clothing from the waist up. You will be given a gown to wear and led to a room with the mammography X ray machine. The test is performed one breast at a time.

A technologist, the majority of who are women, will position your breast in the machine between a platform and a clear, plastic paddle, which the technologist will slowly lower to flatten and compress the breast. This is done to even out the thickness of the breast and hold it in place for a better image.

You will feel pressure on your breast as the compression paddle squeezes it. This may be uncomfortable, even a little painful. Inform the technologist of any pain. If discomfort is significant, she will use less compression.

A typical screening mammogram requires two views of each breast, a top-down view and a side view. Between views, you will be asked to change positions with the help of the technologist. The process is repeated for the other breast.

To prevent blurring the image, you must remain very still while the X rays are taken. You may be asked to hold your breath a few seconds. The entire procedure takes about 30 minutes.

After the test

When the technologist is done taking the X rays, she may ask you to wait while she checks the images to make sure they are of sufficient quality for the radiologist to read. If not, an additional scan or two may be needed. If the images are good, you'll be released to carry on with your normal activities. 

The Results

Once obtained, your mammogram remains an electronic file. Florida Hospital has the most sophisticated network, viewing stations and software for processing, transmitting, reviewing and storing these electronic images.

One of our physicians, specially trained in mammography, will examine and interpret your scan and create a report of his/her findings that will be sent to your doctor. Your doctor will present the results and discuss them with you.