What is Mammography?

Mammography is a specific type of imaging that uses a low-dose x-ray system to examine breasts. A mammography exam, called a mammogram, is used to aid in the early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases. 

What are some common uses of the procedure?

Mammograms are used as a screening tool to detect early breast cancer in women experiencing no symptoms and to detect and diagnose breast disease in women experiencing symptoms such as a lump, pain or nipple discharge.

Screening Mammography

Mammography plays a central part in early detection of breast cancers because it can show changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or practitioner can feel them.


Diagnostic Mammography

Diagnostic mammography is used to evaluate a patient with abnormal clinical findings - such as a breast lump or lumps - that have been found by the woman or her practitioner. Diagnostic mammography may also be done after an abnormal screening mammography in order to evaluate the area of concern on the screening exam.

How safe is it?

The dose of radiation needed for a mammogram is very low.  The health risk is less than if you smoked one cigarette a year.  The benefits far outweigh such minimal risk. 

What will I experience during and after the procedure?

You may experience some temporary discomfort.  In order to achieve the clearest picture, we compress the breast.  The procedure takes only a few seconds for each breast.  Any tightness or discomfort you may feel usually disappears immediately after the compression is released.  The compression does not harm the breast tissue.

Abnormalities on your x-ray don't necessarily mean cancer

In 80 to 90% of women, second examinations confirm that the breast tissue is normal. After the radiologist has a chance to thoroughly study your x-rays, the results will be sent to your referring practitioner.

Many breast lumps are not cancerous

About 85% of the lumps detected by mammography are not cancerous. They're referred to as benign and usually require no treatment unless they are painful. If there is cancer, the sooner it is found the better your chances for successful treatment.

Early diagnosis also allows you and your referring practitioner to choose from a variety of treatment alternatives.

Exam preparation instructions

Click here for exam preparation instructions for mammography procedures.

Mastalgia/Breast pain

Breast pain is one of the most common breast problems and affects up to 70% of women at some time in their life. CLICK HERE for more information about mastalgia/breast pain.

Breast Imaging/Mammography publications

For more patient information regarding Mammography please refer to http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?PG=mammo