Mammography is a specific type of breast imaging that uses low-dose x-rays to detect cancer early – before women experience symptoms – when it is most treatable.
Tell your doctor about any breast symptoms or problems, prior surgeries, hormone use, whether you have a family or personal history of breast cancer, and if there’s a possibility you are pregnant. If possible, obtain copies of your prior mammograms and make them available to your radiologist on the day of your exam. Leave jewelry at home and wear loose, comfortable clothing. You may be asked to wear a gown. Don’t wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts as these may appear on the mammogram and interfere with correct diagnosis.
What are the benefits vs. risks?
- Imaging of the breast improves a physician's ability to detect small tumors. When cancers are small, the woman has more treatment options.
- The use of screening mammography increases the detection of small abnormal tissue growths confined to the milk ducts in the breast, called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). These early tumors cannot harm patients if they are removed at this stage and mammography is an excellent way to detect these tumors. It is also useful for detecting all types of breast cancer, including invasive ductal and invasive lobular cancer.
- No radiation remains in a patient's body after an x-ray examination.
- X-rays usually have no side effects in the typical diagnostic range for this exam.