Skip to Main Content
Woman looking up at the sky

Mammograms for breast cancer

Mammograms are a critical cornerstone in the realm of women's health care, playing a pivotal role in early breast cancer detection. These specialized X-ray screenings have been instrumental in improving breast cancer survival rates and reducing mortality. According to the American Cancer Society, regular mammograms can detect up to 90% of breast cancers in their earliest stages when treatment is most effective.

The importance of regular mammograms

  • Mammograms are highly effective at detecting breast cancer in its early stages, often before symptoms are noticeable. This early detection increases the chances of successful treatment and better outcomes.

  • Regular mammograms have the potential to save lives. By identifying cancer at an early, more treatable stage, women can access timely medical interventions that can potentially prevent the spread of cancer.

  • Studies have shown that routine mammography screenings can lead to a reduction in breast cancer mortality rates. Early detection through mammograms can significantly lower the risk of death from breast cancer.

  • Detecting breast cancer early provides patients with a wider range of treatment options. It allows for less aggressive treatments, such as lumpectomy instead of mastectomy, and increases the chances of breast-conserving surgeries.

  • Early detection and treatment can help preserve a woman's breast, reducing the physical and emotional impact of more extensive surgeries. This contributes to a better quality of life post-treatment.

  • Mammograms can be tailored to individual risk factors, such as family history or genetic predisposition. This allows for personalized screening plans, ensuring that women at higher risk receive more frequent and targeted screenings.

  • Widespread mammogram screening programs have the potential to have a positive impact on public health. They can contribute to reducing the overall burden of breast cancer in society.

Schedule a cancer screening today.

With locations across Greater Sacramento, a Dignity Health Advanced Imaging location is just right around the corner. Call our centralized scheduling department to schedule an appointment today.

Process of getting a mammogram

Tips to prepare for a mammogram

  • Schedule wisely: Choose a time for your mammogram when your breasts are less likely to be tender. The week after your period is often a good choice for premenopausal women.

  • Wear appropriate clothing: Wear a two-piece outfit with a top that can be easily removed. This will make undressing for the mammogram and dressing afterward more convenient.

  • Avoid certain products: On the day of your mammogram, refrain from using deodorants, antiperspirants, lotions, powders, or perfumes on your chest area. These products can interfere with the mammogram images.

  • Bring relevant information: If you have had prior mammograms or breast-related procedures at different facilities, bring any relevant images and reports with you to the appointment. This can help the radiologist compare current and previous images for a more accurate assessment.

  • Communicate any concerns: If you have concerns about the mammogram procedure or any discomfort you've experienced during previous screenings, discuss them with the technologist or your health care physician before the exam. They can provide guidance and address your concerns.

  • Relaxation techniques: To minimize anxiety and discomfort during the procedure, practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing. Some women find it helpful to take a few slow, deep breaths before each compression.

  • Pain management: If you experience discomfort or tenderness during mammograms, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen before the appointment. Consult with your health care physician about the appropriate dosage.

How often should I get a mammogram?

The recommended frequency for mammograms can vary based on individual factors such as age, family history, and risk factors. Here are general guidelines for mammogram screening frequency:

  • Age 40 to 49: Women in their 40s should begin discussing mammogram screenings with their health care physician. Some organizations recommend annual mammograms starting at age 40, while others suggest beginning at age 45 or 50. The decision should be based on individual risk factors and preferences.

  • Age 50 and over: For women aged 50 and older, annual mammograms are generally recommended. Regular screening becomes increasingly important as the risk of breast cancer increases with age.

  • High-risk individuals: Women with a family history of breast cancer or other significant risk factors may need to start mammograms at an earlier age and undergo more frequent screenings. High-risk individuals should consult with their health care physician or a genetic counselor to determine the appropriate screening schedule.

  • Personalized screening plans: Health care providers often assess an individual's risk profile and create personalized screening plans. These plans take into account factors like family history, genetic mutations (e.g., BRCA1 or BRCA2), previous breast cancer diagnoses, and breast density.

  • Continued screening: Regular mammogram screenings should continue as long as a woman is in good health and has a life expectancy of at least 10 years. This may mean continuing screenings into older age, as long as it is medically appropriate.

Mammogram locations

Frequently asked mammography questions

Mammograms can be uncomfortable for some women due to breast compression, but the discomfort is usually brief and tolerable. Communicate any concerns with the technologist, who can adjust the compression level.

The mammogram procedure typically takes about 20-30 minutes, including preparation and imaging. Additional time may be needed if further tests are recommended.

Yes, mammograms can be performed on individuals with breast implants. It's important to inform the technologist about the implants to ensure proper positioning and imaging.

Care where you want it

You don’t have to look far for a team of specialists dedicated to helping you get back to the things you love. Our Dignity Health Advanced Imaging Group physicians are here to lend a helping hand.