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Breast cancer is common, affecting 1 in 8 women. It is important to know that 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. Finding breast cancer at the earliest possible stage greatly increases your chances for a complete cure. Breast cancer is often asymptomatic and undetectable on physical exam until the cancer is advanced. Screening mammography is an essential test to detect breast cancer before symptoms arise. Deaths due to breast cancer are decreased by 40% in women who receive a yearly screening mammogram compared to women who do not. All women at average lifetime risk for breast cancer are recommended to receive a yearly screening mammogram beginning at age 40. Women with high lifetime risk for breast cancer benefit from yearly screening mammograms beginning at age 30.
Women with an area of concern on the screening mammogram or with breast symptoms such as a lump, nipple or skin changes, or focal breast pain should have a diagnostic breast imaging exam. Women with a personal history of treated breast cancer or high lifetime risk for breast cancer may also benefit from a diagnostic breast imaging evaluation. Diagnostic breast imaging is a problem-solving tool that uses mammography, breast ultrasound, or a combination of both types of imaging tests to exclude or confirm breast cancer.
Avoid wearing deodorant as it may contain tiny particles which may appear cloudy or as areas of concern. It is suggested you wear comfortable shoes and pants as you will have to undress from the waist up.
The screening exam takes about fifteen minutes, with most of the exam time dedicated to a discussion of your breast health history and any current symptoms with the technologist performing the exam. The breast is under moderate compression during the screening process. Each image takes a few seconds or less, with most women requiring between four and eight images. You will be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds as each image is taken.
After the imaging, you may resume your regular routine. Results from your screening mammogram will be mailed to you and your referring healthcare provider. If there is a concern, we will contact you immediately to schedule diagnostic testing.
If you undergo diagnostic imaging, a board-certified breast imaging radiology physician will interpret your scans immediately after the images are taken, and our physicians will discuss the results in person at the end of your appointment.