A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. Mammography is performed by a specially trained radiology technologist.
The technologist performs a mammogram by compressing your breast between two plates that are attached to a specially designed x-ray machine. The breast is then digitally imaged from two separate angles.
The results of the mammogram are examined by a radiologist and show the features of the breast. The results may reveal suspicious areas that require further investigation.
Occasionally, women who undergo mammography require magnification or compression views. These views allow the radiologist to better view tiny calcium deposits (microcalcifications) or small masses that are undetectable during a regular breast exam.
Breast Cancer Detection
Mammograms detect most, but not all, breast cancers. Therefore, self-examination and examination by your physician are equally important in breast cancer detection.
Most changes that occur in the breast are first noticed by women themselves. If you practice regular breast self-exams you are familiar with the look and feel of your breasts and will more than likely notice a change that may indicate a problem.
When a lump (also called a mass or lesion) becomes large enough to feel it is said to be palpable. If you discover a change in your breasts, call your gynecologist or primary care physician to have your breasts professionally examined.
A physician may suspect an abnormal area is nothing more than a mass filled with liquid, more commonly called a cyst. The physician may attempt to aspirate it by inserting a thin needle into the area. If the cyst is aspirated and it does not collapse entirely, or if the fluid removed is bloody, it will be examined by a pathologist.
If your doctor feels your condition is suspicious and requires further investigation, he or she will then recommend one or more diagnostic procedures.
The type of mammogram procedure you have will be determined by your physician and yourself. A diagnostic study is usually ordered if you are having pain, tenderness, nipple discharge, soreness, lump(s), or a strong family history of breast cancer. A screening study is usually ordered if you are having no problems or symptoms with your breast.
The American Cancer Society recommends follow-up mammograms every one to two years between age 40 and 50 and every year after age 50.
Digital mammograms are offered from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday. To schedule an appointment, call 919-470-5272 and ask for Durham Regional Hospital.
Physicians offering this service include: