What Is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray image of the breast. It reveals masses and micro-calcifications that may indicate cancer. Our radiologists use digital mammography, which delivers great advantages over traditional mammography including:

  • Higher quality images than traditional film mammograms
  • Reduced number of retakes and repeat procedures
  • Less time spent in the exam room
  • Much faster communication of results to your referring physician
  • Easy and secure sharing with some of the most qualified women’s imaging specialists in Northern California
  • More refined detection tools, such as computer-aided diagnosis (CAD)
  • Greater accuracy with enhancement algorithms that make clearer images of abnormalities in dense tissue.

When Is It Used?

Mammograms are most often used in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer in women. Experts recommend annual mammography screening of the breasts to increase the chance of early cancer detection. The American Cancer Society recommends that women over the age of 40 should have a mammogram every year and should continue to get them for as long as they are in good health.

What Happens During a Mammogram?

Before the exam, you will be asked to undress from the waist up and out on a gown in a private dressing room. In the exam room, the technologist will review your medical history and any symptoms you’ve been experiencing related to your breasts. The tech will then position you standing at the mammography machine and place your breast over the receptor. The machine will apply moderate compression to your breast for a few seconds to get the clearest picture. Two X-ray views are usually taken.

The technologist will view your images on a computer screen to assess the quality of the images. Once finished, you can leave and resume normal activities.

What Are the Benefits and Risks of Mammograms?

For over 50 years, mammograms have been the most common imaging tool used in the detection and treatment of breast cancer. Breast cancer deaths have declined since 1990, with some studies showing that 2/3 of that decline is due to mammography screening.

The amount of radiation exposure is below government standards, so risks are extremely low.