Mammography is a diagnostic procedure used to detect tumors and cysts in the breast that may be too small for a woman to detect through self-examination.
No method of detecting breast cancer is 100 percent certain, but data shows that most cancers are detected earlier when patients undergo an annual mammogram after age 40.
At the Falk Breast health Center at Crouse Hospital, we use the most advanced 3D digital mammography, which pairs modern electronic and computer technology with traditional X-ray mammography methods. Tomosynthesis, or 3D digital mammography, provides more accurate images, reduces radiation exposure and results in fewer false positives than traditional X-ray mammography. Digital mammography has been shown to be especially effective in detecting abnormalities in young women and those with dense breast tissue.
Patients with no symptoms will receive a screening mammography procedure. Those with breast lumps or other concerns will have a diagnostic mammogram, which may include specialized views and, at times, an ultrasound of the breast. Because images are processed digitally, they can be viewed, optimized and stored on a computer for easy access by your physician or hospital staff at any time.
What To Expect
When you have a mammogram, you'll be asked to change into a patient gown from the waist up. During the exam the breast is compressed for a short period with a small amount of pressure. Most women report the procedure is relatively painless with only a small amount of discomfort from the compression. A typical digital mammogram takes only about 15 minutes.
Make sure the facility you are choosing is accredited by the American College of Radiology.
Four Steps to Good Breast Health
Monthly Breast Exam
Know how your breasts normally look and feel. Examine your breasts monthly and report any changes to your doctor.
See your doctor for a clinical breast examination. Doing so can reveal abnormalities that may be missed by a mammogram.
Because the shared goal is to save the most lives possible from breast cancer, the American College of Radiology (ACR) and Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) continue to recommend that women get yearly mammograms starting at age 40. New American Cancer Society (ACS) breast cancer screening guidelines, and previous data used by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) to create their recommendations, state that starting annual mammography at age 40 saves the most lives. If you're under 40 and have a family history of breast cancer or other concerns, discuss when to begin screening with your doctor.
Your doctor has new tools to help identify women at high risk for breast cancer. Identify your risk factors for breast cancer and discuss them with your doctor:
- Increasing age
- Having a mother, sister or daughter with breast cancer
- Having a breast biopsy showing abnormal cells
- Beginning your first period before age 12
- Having a first child after age 30 or not ever having children