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Patient Instructions - Mammogram

A mammogram is an X-ray that uses low-dose radiation to create an image of your breast tissue. A mammogram is performed to help your physician detect breast cancer often times before symptoms appear.

The American Cancer Society recommends annual mammograms beginning at age 40. If you are not having problems, you will be scheduled for a routine or screening mammogram. Please inform the person scheduling your mammogram if you have breast implants. Additional views are needed which requires more time.

A diagnostic mammogram will be scheduled if you are having problems (lump, discharge). Diagnostic mammograms involve more images or pictures and will require more time than routine mammograms. Routine mammograms are only screening tests. This test cannot tell if you have cancer. It can only identify suspicious areas that may require further testing.

You should not schedule your mammogram when your breasts are tender (before or during your period). Compression used during mammography is essential for reducing X-ray exposure, and for a better view of breast tissue.

Before your Mammogram

  • Do not use any deodorant, powder, perfume or lotion in your underarm area or on your breasts. Residue from these products can often be detected on the films and could create misleading results.

  • You will be asked to undress from the waist up, so you may wish to wear a two-piece outfit.

During your Mammogram

  • A female mammographer will position your breast on the X-ray machine using a compression device, a smooth plastic shield that spreads and thins the breast tissue as it compresses or squeezes. You will feel pressure on your breast for a short period of time.

  • Two X-rays will be taken of each breast. Occasionally, more images may be needed.

  • Length of exam is approximately 20-30 minutes.

  • Please bring any previous mammogram films you have had elsewhere (outside of the St. Cloud area) with you at the time of your exam. Your previous mammograms will be compared (by the radiologist) with your current study, and are very important when looking for small changes in the breast tissue.

After your Mammogram

  • A radiologist will view the images along with Computer Aided Detection (CAD), which provides the radiologist with a method to “double check” your mammogram images.

  • If you are having a routine mammogram, the Breast Center staff will notify you by letter of your mammogram results in 3-5 days.

  • You may get a phone call if additional films are needed. Please keep in mind that further work up DOES NOT mean cancer, it simply means there has been a change that needs additional imaging. (This could be something as simple as a cyst).

  • Your health care provider will receive a report of your mammogram. If you have not heard from us within 5 working days of your mammogram, contact your health care provider.

Providing safe, quality patient care is our highest priority. To help ensure quality and safety, we ask that you do not bring young children with you to your appointments, as children are not allowed to accompany you during Imaging procedures. Staff is unable to care for your child in your absence.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your provider. 

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