Mammography, or mammogram, uses X-rays to make an image of breast tissue while it is compressed between two plates. It is used to screen for signs of breast cancer.
At Dignity Health Central California, we see mammograms as a must, not a maybe. They are the best way to detect breast cancer, and our goal is to make getting one a little bit easier. That way, we can help maintain your overall health and well-being.
If you have a doctor order for a mammogram in Central California, make an appointment online at St. Joseph’s Women’s Imaging Center in Stockton or Mercy Women’s Imaging Center in Bakersfield.
When Do Doctors Recommend Mammogram Screening?
Most women should begin having annual mammograms between ages 40 and 45. If you have an increased risk for breast cancer, you may need to start earlier. Your doctor will tell you when you no longer need to have this test each year.
Doctors use mammograms to:
- Look for breast cancer before symptoms appear
- Diagnose irregularities found during an exam by you or your doctor
- Track the progress of irregularities or lumps
- Follow-up on abnormal mammograms you’ve had in the past
Preparing for a Diagnostic Mammogram at Dignity Health Central California
You can help make your mammogram more effective by:
- Scheduling your exam when your breasts won’t be tender — due to compression of the breasts during the exam, avoid scheduling right before or during menstruation
- Sending previous mammography results to Dignity Health if you’ve never used our mammogram facilities before
- Not applying lotion, perfume, powder, or deodorant under your arms to prevent shadows from appearing on the mammogram
- Telling both the scheduler and the technologist if you have breast implants — implants may require special techniques that take more time
- Wearing pants, a skirt, or shorts instead of a dress so only have to remove your clothes from the waist up
After a radiologist reviews your mammogram, your doctor will tell you what they found. You may need additional imaging tests to confirm the results. At Dignity Health Central California, we offer complete imaging services, including digital mammography, breast ultrasound, stereotactic biopsy, and bone density scans.
Risks & Complications of Mammograms
Mammograms are very safe tests. They use less radiation than a standard chest X-ray. But for some women they can be uncomfortable — especially when the breast is compressed between the plates.
It is also possible for a mammogram to find misleading results. They can miss the presence of breast cancer (false negative) or they can find an irregularity that is actually normal (false positive).
Help your screening be more accurate and effective by knowing what your breasts normally look like by practicing regular breast self-exams and getting regular clinical breast exams with your doctor. Our quick, online breast cancer risk assessment can help you learn more about mammography and breast cancer.
Dignity Health Central California provides state-of-the-art breast imaging and mammogram screening in Bakersfield, Merced, San Andreas, and Stockton, CA.