Mammogram FAQs

What are the benefits of screening mammography?

The most effective tool available to physicians today is the high-quality screening mammography because it detects breast cancer before lumps can be felt or symptoms of cancer appear. Early detection of breast cancer not only provides a woman with more treatment options, but also increases the possibility of a favorable prognosis.

Is there a risk of radiation exposure from regular mammograms?

You should ask your physician about the amount of radiation used during the procedure and the potential related risks. As a rule of thumb, you should keep a record of your past radiation exposure history (IE: scans and other types of x-rays) so that you can provide your physician with as much information as possible to inform their decision. It is also important to note that special care is taken to ensure that the lowest possible amount of radiation exposure occurs when you have a mammogram.

What should I expect when having a mammogram?

During a mammogram, the mammography tech will ask you to stand in front of the x-ray equipment. One breast is compressed between two plates to flatten and spread the tissue apart. This allows for a good picture of your breast.  Compression of the breast may cause temporary discomfort, but it should not hurt, and only lasts for a few seconds for each image of the breast. The x-ray image is taken and stored digitally in the computer. 

Are mammograms painful?

Some women find the pressure of the plates on their breasts to be uncomfortable or even somewhat painful. Digital mammography limits this discomfort greatly. Nevertheless, you should try to time your mammogram when your breasts are not particularly tender. In premenopausal women, this is usually one week after your menstrual period.

When should I get a mammogram?

The American Cancer Society recommends that women age 40 or over should get a screening mammogram every year.