PeaceHealth Breast Center
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is a special type of x-ray exam that creates detailed images of the breast. At the PeaceHealth Breast Center we use digital imaging that uses a computer rather than film. Mammography plays a major role in early detection of breast cancers, which in turn, increases the chances of successful treatment and survival. Mammography can detect breast cancer many years before a lump can be felt.
- Why is mammography sometimes uncomfortable?
You will feel firm pressure but no significant pain. If the discomfort is not tolerable, inform the technologist. The quality of the mammogram is highly dependent on compression of the breast to produce a detailed and sharp image. The total x-ray dose is reduced by good compression.
- When should I get a mammogram?
Baseline or first mammograms should be scheduled between the ages of 35 and 40 and then every year after age 40. Patients with significant risk or strong family history should consult with their doctors on when to begin screening.
- Do I need a doctor referral?
At the PeaceHealth Breast Center we do require a referral from your health care provider. Often they will refer you without an office visit. The results will go to both you and your health care provider.
- What is a screening mammogram?
This a routine exam with no breast symptoms.
- What is a diagnostic mammogram?
A diagnostic mammogram is usually done after a screening exam that showed an abnormality or it can also be for women that have a complaint such as pain or a lump.
- Does mammography take the place of manual breast examination?
No. The best chance a woman has for early detection is to combine periodic mammograms with manual breast examination by an experienced doctor. A woman should also continue her monthly self breast examination.
- How long do mammograms take?
With digital imaging the actual mammogram takes less than 10 minutes. Allow extra time for registration. A diagnostic mammogram can take up to 30 minutes. A breast biopsy is at least one hour.
- What is a baseline mammogram?
A baseline mammogram is the set of images used as the basis for comparison in later tests and is usually a patient’s first screening mammogram. Patients should always keep track of when and where they have had each mammogram. Previous mammograms are necessary to assist the radiologist with his interpretation of current and future mammograms.
- What is a cyst?
Cysts are harmless sacs of fluid in the breast. The exact causes are not known but cysts are known to change with hormonal fluctuations either during the menstrual cycle or hormone replacement therapy. Cysts do not become cancer or increase the risk of cancer. Most of the time cysts can be left alone, but sometimes a physician may drain them with a small needle.