Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I prepare for my mammogram?
A: If this is your first time having a mammogram at the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center, please obtain any previous mammographic studies and bring them with you for comparison purposes. Comparing previous films with present studies allows for a proper diagnosis.
If you are still having menstrual periods, try to avoid making your mammogram appointment during the week before your period. Waiting until after your period when your breasts are less tender and swollen will make you more comfortable during your mammogram and the images will be better.
If you have breast implants, be sure to tell the scheduler when you make your appointment.
Wear a shirt with shorts, pants, or a skirt. Since you will be asked to undress from the waist up and wear a comfortable robe, you will find that wearing a two piece outfit will be more convenient that wearing a dress.
On the day of your mammogram, please do not use deodorants, creams or powders in the underarm or breast area.
Q: What can a mammogram show?
A: The radiologist will look for breast changes that do not look normal and for differences in each breast. He or she will compare your past mammograms with your most recent one to check for changes. The doctor will also look for lumps and calcifications.
Lump or mass. The size, shape, and edges of a lump sometimes can give doctors information about whether or not it may be cancer. On a mammogram, a growth that is benign often looks smooth and round with a clear, defined edge. Breast cancer often has a jagged outline and an irregular shape.
Calcification. A calcification is a deposit of the mineral calcium in the breast tissue. Calcifications appear as small white spots on a mammogram. If calcifications are grouped together in a certain way, it may be a sign of cancer. Depending on how many calcium specks you have, how big they are, and what they look like, your doctor may suggest that you have other tests. Calcium in the diet does not create calcium deposits, or calcifications, in the breast.
Q: What if I have breast implants?
A: Women with breast implants should also have mammograms. If you have breast implants, be sure to tell the mammography technician. Implants can hide some breast tissue, making it harder for the radiologist to see a problem when looking at your mammogram. To see as much breast tissue as possible, the x-ray technician will gently lift the breast tissue slightly away from the implant and take extra pictures of the breasts. A woman who had an implant after breast cancer surgery in which the entire breast was removed (mastectomy) typically does not need to have a mammogram of the reconstructed breast, but should confirm this with her doctor.
Q: What if an abnormality is found on the screening mammogram?
A: First, please do not get alarmed. Most abnormalities discovered by mammography are benign (not cancer). But if an abnormality is discovered by mammography, additional breast imaging will be required, and may include:
Diagnostic mammogram, to focus on a specific area of the breast
Ultrasound, an imaging test that uses sound waves to create a picture of your breast. The pictures may show whether a lump is solid or filled with fluid. This exam may be used along with a mammogram.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses a powerful magnet linked to a computer. MRI makes detailed pictures of breast tissue.
Biopsy, a test in which fluid or tissue is removed from your breast to help find out if there is cancer.
Q: How will I get the results of my screening mammogram?
A: A radiologist specially trained in breast imaging interpretation will read your breast imaging study. A formal report will be sent to your physician. A letter will be sent to you explaining the results. Occasionally, additional imaging may be necessary. Please do not be alarmed if you are called back for more imaging, as only a small percentage of patients who require additional breast imaging have breast cancer.
Source: National Cancer Institute