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 College of Radiology recommends annual mammograms beginning at age 40. If you are not having problems, you will be scheduled for a 2D or 3D screening (routine) 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.
  • 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.

During Your Mammogram

2D Mammograms:

  • Two X-ray views of each breast will be obtained to evaluate the entire breast. The technologist will guide and talk you through the positioning. You will likely be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds when the pictures are taken.
  • A compression device will be used on your breast. It will help prevent blurring caused by motion and gives a clearer picture of the breast by spreading out the tissue so that cancer is not hidden and overlapping tissues does not look like an abnormality. Compression may cause mild discomfort but should not be painful.
  • Length of exam is approximately 20-30 minutes.

3D Mammograms:

  • You may choose to get a 3D mammogram, which is an advanced form of mammography that used low-energy X-rays to create a 3D image of the breast. The technologist will guide you through the same positioning as a 2D mammogram.
  • You will be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds while the mammogram equipment takes multiple pictures from multiple angles, creating thin slice images through the breast. This helps distinguish normal, overlapping tissue from an underlying mass and can lead to a more accurate diagnosis than 2D mammography. 3D mammograms have been shown to decrease the chance that a woman will need to come back for additional imaging test by up to 40 percent. They have also been shown to increase the detection of all breast cancers by 29 percent and of invasive breast cancers by 41 percent.
  • Length of exam is approximately 20-30 minutes.

After Your Mammogram

  • We regret any discomfort that you may have experienced because of breast compression during your mammogram examination.
  • There may be some temporary skin discoloration and aching involving one or both breasts from the compression. After your mammogram, a radiologist will view the images along with CAD (Computer Aided Detection), which provides the radiologist with a method to “double check” your mammogram images.
  • You may be notified that additional images are needed.
  • If you are having a routine mammogram, the Breast Center staff will notify you by letter of your mammogram results in 3-5 days.
  • Your provider will receive a report of your mammogram, so if you have not heard from the Breast Center within five working days of your mammogram, please contact your 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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