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Mammography and Routine Screenings

Mammography and Routine Screenings

Mammography plays a central part in breast health because mammograms can detect changes in the breast that may be early signs of cancer, but are too subtle or small to be discovered through self-breast exams. The use of mammography has greatly enhanced the ability to detect breast cancers at earlier stages.

A mammogram is an X-ray image of the breast. There are two types of mammograms--screening and diagnostic. The screening mammogram consists of two views of breast, and is recommended every year after 40 years of age for women without symptoms of a lump or discharge. The diagnostic mammogram provides additional projections and spot magnification and may be recommended following a routine screening mammogram if there is a new finding or concern.

Screening Mammography Guidelines

The X-ray evaluation is recommended every year for women over age 40 when there are no symptoms of breast disease. According to the American Cancer Society, all women should have a baseline screening mammogram between the ages of 35 and 40. Routine screening is recommended at the age of 40 and continuing as long as a woman is in good health. Women with certain risk factors should discuss an appropriate screening schedule with their physician.

Digital Mammography

Digital mammography is offered at the Good Samaritan Breast Center. We provide softer, warmer mammograms using MammoPads®, a soft foam pad that can help relieve discomfort felt during a mammogram.

Digital mammography uses computers and specially designed digital detectors to produce an image that is displayed on a high resolution computer monitor and transmitted and stored just like computer files.

  • Unlike film-based mammography, digital mammograms produce images that appear on the technologists monitor in a matter of seconds, which means there is no waiting for the film to develop.
  • With digital mammography, the radiologist reviews electronic images of the breast using special high resolution monitors. The physician can adjust brightness, change contrast and zoom in for close-ups of specific areas of concern. Being able to manipulate images is one of the main benefits of digital mammography.
  • Another advantage over film is that digital greatly reduces the need for retakes due to over and under exposure.

Preparing for Your Mammogram

Digital mammograms at Good Samaritan are offered in a private space for patients, with a convenient entrance, close parking and a beautiful new look. When it's time for your appointment, park near the Ambulatory Cancer Center (ACC) on the northeast corner of the hospital (just east of the main entrance). Enter through the ACC door and check-in at the Admissions office in the waiting area.

Helpful Hints:

  • You shouldn't schedule your mammogram the week before your period if your breasts are usually tender during this time. It is best to schedule the test one week after your period.
  • Do not wear deodorant, lotion or powder to the hospital; these items contain calcium, which can show on your X-rays and confuse the findings.
  • You will be asked to remove all jewelry and clothing above the waist before the exam. A gown that opens in the front will be provided.
  • Before the mammogram, tell your technologist if you are or may be pregnant.
  • Tell your doctor or technologist of any breast symptoms or problems you have been experiencing.