A mammogram (mammography) is an imaging test used to screen for breast cancer. It uses ionizing radiation (X-rays) to create an image while the breast is compressed between two plates. The technologist performing the test will ask you to undress from the waist up and hold your breath while the X-ray is being taken. Mammography is an important part of your breast health.
At Dignity Health North State, we offer digital mammography in Northern California to increase the chances of early breast cancer detection. This can lead to more successful treatment if cancer is detected. Find a Doctor at one of our locations to schedule your annual mammogram.
Diagnostic Mammogram & Other Reasons for Mammography
Your breast cancer risk will determine the age when you should start getting yearly mammograms. For most women, it’s between ages 40 to 45. Your doctor will tell you when this annual test is no longer necessary.
Doctors use mammograms to:
- Screen for breast cancer with no symptoms
- Diagnose breast irregularities found by you or your doctor
- Follow-up on previous abnormal mammograms
- Track the progress of lumps or irregularities
How to Prepare for Mammogram Screening at Dignity Health North State
Prepare for your mammogram at Dignity Health by:
- Scheduling your exam when you will be between periods — your breasts may be extra tender right before or during menstruation
- Sending previous mammogram results before your appointment if this is your first time at the facility
- Not applying powder, lotion, deodorant, or perfume under your arms to prevent shadows from appearing on the mammogram
- Telling both the technologist and scheduler if you have breast implants — they require special techniques that can take more time
- Wearing a skirt, shorts, or pants instead of a dress so only have to undress from the waist up
After a radiologist reviews your mammogram, your doctor will tell you the results. You may need to repeat the mammogram or have a breast MRI or breast ultrasound to confirm the results. Both of these imaging services are available at Dignity Health North State hospitals.
Risks & Complications of Mammograms
Mammograms are very safe screening test. They use less radiation than a standard chest X-ray. However, they can be uncomfortable for some women, especially when the breast is compressed between the plates.
It’s important to understand that mammograms are not foolproof. They can find a spot that turns out to be normal (false positive) or they can miss breast cancer that’s actually there (false negative). You can help your breast cancer screening be more effective by practicing regular breast self-exams, knowing what your breasts normally look like, and getting regular breast exams with your doctor. Talk to your doctor about any other recommended cancer screenings for women that are right for you.
Dignity Health North State offers the latest in mammography, including digital mammograms and 3-D mammograms in Mt. Shasta, Red Bluff, and Redding, CA.