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Breast Imaging: Mammography
In response to a new study led by Cancer Care Ontario that found digital direct radiography (DR) mammography equipment to be significantly more effective than computed radiography (CR) technology at detecting breast cancer, St. Joseph’s is reassuring women that all breast screening at St. Joseph’s has been fully digital since 2006. All those screened at St. Joseph’s for the past seven years have been screened using digital mammography equipment.
What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is a set of x-rays of your breast tissue. It can detect problems in the breast when they are still too small to be felt. A mammogram uses a very small amount of radiation that does not harm you.
How to preapare for a mammogram
Do not use any creams, oils, talcum, baby powder or deodorant on your underarm or breasts. These products cause problems getting a clear picture. You may want to bring these items with you to use after your mammogram.
Wear a shirt, blouse or top that you can take off easily, as you will need to get undressed above the waist for this test.
What happens during a mammogram?
You will first undress above the waist and put on a hospital gown. The technologist will ask you a few things about your medical history and answer any questions you may have.
The technologist will then position you in front of the machine. Most women stand up for this test. If you are not able to stand, the technologist will help you get into a comfortable position.
The technologist will then compress one of your breasts between 2 plastic plates. This helps the machine get a clear picture of the inside of your breast. The pressure from the plates is uncomfortable but should not be painful. After a picture is taken, the plates are released. You will have 2 or more pictures taken of each breast.
The entire examination will probably take about 30 minutes. If you have any questions, you can plan to be here a bit longer.
What happens after a mammogram?
After the mammogram has been taken, you will be asked to wait until the images are checked. The technologist will need to see the pictures to make sure they are clear. The radiologist then interprets the mammogram and may also want other tests, like extra views and/or an ultrasound, done to get a better look.
When the x-rays are o.k., you will then be able to get dressed and go home.
This test is safe and does not damage the breast in any way. You should not feel any pain or discomfort after the test.
When do I find out the results?
The radiologist will send a report to the doctor who sent you for the test. He/she will give you the results.
Is there anything else I should know?
A mammogram is only one test used to find problems in a breast. Your doctor may want you to have other tests as well.
All women should do a breast self-exam each month and visit their doctor for routine check-ups.
For more free information or help on breast self-examination, please call your doctor or:
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
Outside London call 1-866-373-6313
Canadian Cancer Society
Outside London call 1-800-268-8874