A mammogram is an specialized X-ray of the breasts. It is used to detect breast cancer.Doctors recommend that women start getting regular mammograms between the ages of 40 to 45.
Find a Doctor with expertise in breast health, including mammography, in the Bay Area at Dignity Health. Our OB/GYNs and other specialists offer quality women’s services with a philosophy of care, dignity, and respect at our local hospitals and specialty centers:
Why Do You Need a Mammogram?
Your doctor may recommend a mammogram for the following reasons:
- During an annual exam to screen for breast cancer
- To diagnose a breast lump or other concern found by you or your doctor during a breast exam
- To track a breast lump or changes, or previous abnormal mammogram
How to Prepare for Your Annual Mammogram
Prepare for a mammogram screening at Dignity Health by:
- Not using powder, lotion, perfume, or deodorant under your arms — these substances create shadows on your mammogram
- Scheduling your mammogram when you will be most comfortable — your breasts may be more tender right before or during your period
- Sending any previous mammogram results to the testing center if you have had a mammogram at a another facility
- Telling the scheduler and technologist if you have breast implants — they may need to use special techniques that can take more time
What to Expect During & After Your Mammogram at Dignity Health
A mammogram involves undressing from the waist up. For your comfort, most mammogram centers employ female technologists.
During the mammogram, a radiologic technologist places one of your breasts on an X-ray plate and compresses it by lowering another plate. You will be asked to hold your breath while the X-ray is taken.
Mammograms are safe procedures, but can be slightly uncomfortable when the technologist compresses your breast between the plates. Mammograms use very small amounts of radiation — less than a standard chest X-ray. There is no recovery time needed after a mammogram.
Your health care provider will call you within a few days with the results. If an abnormality is found, you may need another mammogram or a different type of imaging test, such as an ultrasound.
Mammograms are a highly effective tool for breast cancer screening, but they are not foolproof.
It’s possible for a mammogram to suggest an abnormality when it is actually normal or to miss a breast cancer entirely.
Help take control of your well-being by knowing common breast cancer signs, getting regular breast exams, performing regular breast self-exams, and knowing what your breasts normally look like. For assistance, talk to your Dignity Health doctor today. Dignity Health provides preventative services for breast cancer, including mammogram, in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.