Mammography is a specific type of imaging that uses low-dose radiation to make x-ray pictures of the internal breast tissue. Normally, two images of each breast will be taken. If you have breast implants, you can still have a mammogram, but four films of each breast will most likely be required. When the mammogram is completed you will be asked to wait until the technologist examines the images to determine if more are needed.
With 3D mammography, images of the breast are taken from multiple angles which help the radiologist see breast cancers earlier and provide better views through dense breast tissue. Clearer images also reduce the chance that a woman will be unnecessarily called back for a repeat test – something that can cause great anxiety.
WHAT WILL I EXPERIENCE DURING AND AFTER THE PROCEDURE?
During a mammogram a technologist will guide you to position your breasts for the exam. The breast is placed on a special platform and compressed with a paddle.
Breast compression is necessary in order to:
- Even out the breast thickness so that all of the tissue can be seen;
- Spread out the tissue so that overlying breast tissue won’t block out small defects;
- Hold the breast still in order to eliminate blurring of the picture caused by motion.
- This procedure will take 30-40 minutes
HOW SHOULD I PREPARE FOR A MAMMOGRAM?
Please do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts on the day of the exam because this may appear on the mammogram film as calcium spots. Describe any breast symptoms or problems to the x-ray technologist performing the exam.
WHO INTERPRETS THE RESULTS OF A MAMMOGRAM AND HOW DO I GET MY RESULTS?
Every mammogram performed at MCRHC is read and interpreted by the Radiologists of North Iowa, located in Mason City. This group of professionals reads and interprets mammogram images remotely most of the week, and rotates their time on site at MCRHC twice each week. The Radiologists of North Iowa also read and interpret mammograms for Mercy Medical Center – North Iowa as well as the majority of Mercy Health Network Critical Access Hospitals across North Iowa.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS VS. RISKS OF MAMMOGRAPHY?
Imaging of the breast allows detection of 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 rarely 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.
Large population studies have shown that screening with breast tomosynthesis results in improved breast cancer detection rates and fewer “call-backs,” instances where women are called back from screening for additional testing because of a potentially abnormal finding.
Breast mammography (tomosynthesis) may also result in:
- earlier detection of small breast cancers that may be hidden on a conventional mammogram
- greater accuracy in pinpointing the size, shape and location of breast abnormalities
- fewer unnecessary biopsies or additional tests
- greater likelihood of detecting multiple breast tumors
- clearer images of abnormalities within dense breast tissue
There is always a slight chance of cancer from excessive exposure to radiation. However, the benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs the risk.
The effective radiation dose for this procedure varies.
False Positive Mammograms. Five percent to 15 percent of screening mammograms require more testing such as additional mammograms or ultrasound. Most of these tests turn out to be normal. If there is an abnormal finding, a follow-up or biopsy may have to be performed. Most biopsies confirm that no cancer is present. The likelihood of false positive findings and negative biopsies is reduced when tomosynthesis imaging is used for screening and diagnostic mammographic examinations.
Women should always inform their physician or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.
WILL MY INSURANCE COVER 3D TOMOSYNTHESIS?
Many insurance companies are providing coverage for 3D digital mammograms; however, you should contact your individual insurance carrier to obtain information on what services are covered by your individual policy.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SCREENING MAMMOGRAM AND A DIAGNOSTIC MAMMOGRAM?
A screening mammogram is considered a mammogram performed on a woman without any breast problems. A diagnostic mammogram is defined as a mammogram that has been ordered because you or your doctor notices a breast problem.