What is a Mammogram?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness MonthA mammogram is a low-dose x-ray that allows doctors called radiologists to look for changes in breast tissue.

Your health matters! Schedule a mammogram today!

Source: cancer.org

Why do I need a mammogram?

A mammogram can often find or detect breast cancer early, when it’s small and even before a lump can be felt. This is when it’s easiest to treat.

A mammogram uses a machine designed to look only at breast tissue. The machine takes x-rays at lower doses than usual x-rays. Because these x-rays don’t go through tissue easily, the machine has 2 plates that compress or flatten the breast to spread the tissue apart. This gives a better picture and allows less radiation to be used.

To learn more about how they are done, see Mammograms: What to Know Before You Go.

Mammograms expose the breasts to small amounts of radiation. But the benefits of mammography outweigh any possible harm from the radiation exposure. Modern machines use low radiation doses to get breast x-rays that are high in image quality. On average the total dose for a typical mammogram with 2 views of each breast is about 0.4 millisieverts, or mSv. (A mSv is a measure of radiation dose.)

To put the dose into perspective, people in the US are normally exposed to an average of about 3 mSv of radiation each year just from their natural surroundings. (This is called background radiation.) The dose of radiation used for a screening mammogram of both breasts is about the same amount of radiation a woman would get from her natural surroundings over about 7 weeks.

If there’s any chance you might be pregnant, let your health care provider and x-ray technologist know. Although the risk to the fetus is likely very small, screening mammograms aren’t routinely done in pregnant women.

A mammogram can often find or detect breast cancer early, when it’s small and even before a lump can be felt. This is when it’s easiest to treat.

Screening mammograms

A screening mammogram is used to look for signs of breast cancer in women who don’t have any breast symptoms or problems. X-ray pictures of each breast are taken from 2 different angles.

Diagnostic mammograms

Mammograms can also be used to look at a woman’s breast if she has breast symptoms or if a change is seen on a screening mammogram. When used in this way, they are called diagnostic mammograms. They may include extra views (images) of the breast that aren’t part of screening mammograms. Sometimes diagnostic mammograms are used to screen women who were treated for breast cancer in the past.

Mammograms can often show abnormal areas in the breast. They can’t prove that an abnormal area is cancer, but they can help health care providers decide whether more testing is needed. The 2 main types of breast changes found with a mammogram are calcifications and masses. Learn more about these and other breast changes in What Does the Doctor Look for on a Mammogram?

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SCHEDULE A MAMMOGRAM IN JUST 3 EASY STEPS

Setting up an appointment has never been easier. You can simply call one of your locations, or follow the steps below to schedule your mammogram study.

CALL DES PLAINES: 847-296-5366

We will call you the day before your appointment as a reminder of your upcoming mammogram study.