Digital Mammography

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A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of the breast and surrounding tissues which can effectively detect cancers long before you or your physician might feel any changes. The goal of mammography is early detection of breast cancer, typically through detection of masses and/or micro-calcifications (very small bits of calcium can appear within the soft tissue of your breast).

Digital Mammography, also called Full-Filed Digital Mammography (FFDM), is a mammography imaging system where the images are seen on a computer screen and can be saved electronically. The images can then be manipulated by the Radiologist to enhance or magnify an area.

For more information visit American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Need to Know

Nice to Know
  • Annual Screening Mammograms are recommended for woman beginning at the age of 40 by The U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the American Cancer Society (ACS), the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Radiology (ACR)
  • Discuss with your physician any lump or thickening of the breast, a dimpling or puckering of your breast, scaling of the skin surrounding the nipple, nipple discharge or any other breast change prior to scheduling this imaging. Any of these clinical signs or symptoms will require an order for a diagnostic mammogram instead of a screening mammogram.
  • It is very important that the Radiologist compare images to your prior mammograms. If your previous mammogram was done elsewhere you should make arrangements for that study to be sent to us before your exam if possible.
  • When scheduling your exam, inform the customer care representative if you have breast implants or a personal history of breast cancer
  • A Radiologist who specializes in mammography will analyze the images and send a report to your physician
  • You will receive a letter within 5-7 days with the results of your imaging and information about your personal breast composition (breast density) and the Connecticut law regarding supplemental screening imaging for dense breasts
  • Our Radiologists and Technologists are specially trained and qualified in Mammography
  • All Jefferson Radiology facilities have FFDM (Full Field Digital Mammography) equipment and CAD (Computer-Aided Detection) – a software that scans the breast image for abnormalities
  • Research has shown that annual mammograms lead to early detection of breast cancers when they are most curable
  • Most breast lumps are not cancerous and the most common reason for a breast lump is fibrocystic tissue which is a benign condition
  • Micro-calcifications are tiny bits of calcium that may show up in clusters or in patterns. They are associated with extra cell activity in breast tissue and usually not cancerous especially if they are scattered in the breast.
  • Breast pain is the most common breast related complaint among women. It is most often related to hormones, weight gain or improperly fitting bras
  • During the exam, compression of the breast is necessary to allow all the breast tissue to be visualized, spread tissue so abnormalities can be seen, lower your x-ray dose and minimize motion. As an added comfort measure, you may want to avoid scheduling your mammogram during the week before you menstruate.
  • All Mammography facilities in the United States are subject to the Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA). This requires annual inspections and re-accreditation every 3 years through an FDA-approved body. All Jefferson Radiology Mammography facilities are accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR). We have been designated as a BICOE (Breast Imaging Center of Excellence) facility by the ACR.

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Why is This Exam Done?

Screening Mammography

Screening mammography can detect breast changes which could signify very early breast cancer. The Radiologist will look for subtle changes in your breasts from previous imaging exams. Mammograms can show changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them. Research has shown that annual mammograms lead to early detection of breast cancers when they are most curable and the most breast-conservation therapies are available.

Diagnostic Mammography

Diagnostic mammography is a problem-solving mammogram used to evaluate a patient with signs or symptoms such as lumps, nipple discharge, pain, dimpling or puckering of skin. It is also used to further evaluate an area of concern found on a screening mammogram. The images are interpreted (read) by a Radiologist at the time of the exam and the Mammographer will do additional imaging as directed. You will be advised of the results before leaving the facility.


What Will Happen During the Exam?

You will be asked to change completely into a gown. A Mammographer (a specially qualified radiologic technologist) will ask you several questions to review your history. These include questions about your family history, hormone usage and any previous breast surgery. Your breast will be placed on a special platform of the mammography unit and the Mammographer will gradually compress your breast, working with you to limit any discomfort. You will be asked to hold very still to limit motion on the images. The Mammographer will reposition you between images and check to ensure the images are well positioned and of good technical quality before discharging you.

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How Should I Prepare?

  • Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts on the day of the exam. These can appear on the mammogram as calcifications (calcium spots) and you may need to return for additional imaging.
  • Wear comfortable 2 piece clothing as you will be asked to remove all clothing above the waist and change into a gown
  • Always inform the staff if you feel you may be pregnant
  • Allow 30 minutes for a screening mammogram and 60 minutes for a diagnostic mammogram
  • If you have a rash or sore on or beneath your breasts, you should postpone your routine exam until the rash/sore is gone or healed
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What Are the Benefits and Risks?

The benefits of Digital Mammography:

  • Imaging of the breast improves the ability to detect small tumors. Women have better treatment options when cancers are small.
  • Micro-calcifications in the breast are best seen on mammograms
  • Mammography increases the detection of small abnormal tissue growths representing early tumors as well as detecting invasive ductal and invasive lobular cancer
  • Digital Mammography can improve the contrast between dense and non-dense tissue in the breast

Risks you should be aware of:

  • About 10 % of Screening Mammograms require more testing such as a diagnostic mammogram or ultrasound and most of these result in normal (negative) findings
  • Abnormal findings may require a follow-up short-term mammogram or a biopsy. Most biopsies have normal results (negative) and confirm that no cancer was present
  • Women with dense breast tissue may benefit from supplemental screening imaging such as Screening Breast Ultrasound or Breast MRI
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Where Can I Get This Exam?

We perform Screening Mammography at all of our 10 office locations:

We perform Diagnostic Mammography at our following office locations:

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