A mammogram is the first line of defense against breast cancer, and an effective tool for helping doctors evaluate a woman's breast health. You may be able to feel a breast lump that is about the size of a quarter, but a mammogram can often find a lump as small as a pencil eraser. Using special equipment that presses the breast tissue, this test is fast and provides clear, high-quality X-ray images.
It's recommended that you develop a personalized mammography screening plan with your doctor and care team by the age of 40. After talking with your doctor, you may choose to begin mammograms earlier than others, particularly if you have a history of breast changes or a family history of breast cancer. Once you turn 50, all major medical societies recommend you have a mammogram every year.
Types of mammograms
- Screening mammogram – An X-ray of the breast used to look for breast disease in women who do not have any symptoms of breast problems. The breast is pressed between two plates to flatten and spread the tissue. An X-ray is taken of the breast from different angles. A radiologist views and interprets the result.
- Diagnostic mammogram – A diagnostic mammogram is used to diagnose breast disease in women and men who have breast symptoms or an abnormal result on a screening mammogram. Fairview Breast Centers and selected Fairview sites provide diagnostic mammograms. A doctor's referral is required for this type of mammogram.
Tips for having a mammogram
(Source: American Cancer Society)
- On the day of your exam, don't wear deodorant or antiperspirant. Some of these contain substances that can show up on the X-ray as white spots. If you're not returning home after your exam, you may want to bring along your deodorant or antiperspirant to put on after the exam.
- You may find it easier to wear a skirt or pants, so that you'll only need to remove your top and bra for the mammogram.
- If you are still menstruating, try to avoid the week just before your period. Schedule your mammogram when your breasts are not tender or swollen to help reduce discomfort.
- Always describe any breast symptoms or problems to the breast technologist doing your mammogram. Also, describe any related medical history such as surgeries, hormone use, and any breast cancer that you or a family member has had.
- Before having any type of imaging test, tell your breast imaging technologist if you are breast-feeding or if you think you might be pregnant.
Screening and diagnostic mammography locations
Fairview offers comprehensive mammography services throughout central Minnesota. Call today to schedule an appointment at a convenient mammography location near you.
612-672-7272 or 800-824-1953 (toll-free)