Mammograms (Early breast cancer detection)

Mammografy (Early breast cancer detection)

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What is a Mammogram?

Mammograms are x-ray images of the breast. Doctors use mammograms to detect tumors that may not be felt on a regular breast self-exam. Mammograms are the best tool for early breast cancer and may be able to detect breast cancer up to three years before it can be felt.


What does a Mammogram feel like?

Many women find mammograms uncomfortable and sometimes painful. However, mammograms only last a few seconds, so the discomfort will quickly subside. Your discomfort level may depend on the size of your breasts, how sensitive your breasts are, and how much they need to be pressed. It is recommended to try and schedule a mammogram one or two weeks after your period starts. During a mammogram, two plates will firmly press your breast while an x-ray is being taken.

What do I do the day of my Mammogram?

Avoid wearing any deodorant, perfume, lotion, or powder during your mammogram as they could potentially show up as white spots on your x-ray. You will be given a gown and be required to undress from the waist up. Most patients prefer to wear a two-piece outfit such as a top and pair of pants.

Who performs and interprets my Mammogram?

Your mammogram will be performed by a board-certified technologist called a mammographer. They are trained to perform and ensure high-quality breast x-rays.

When the mammographer is finished, a radiologist will interpret your mammogram. Radiologists are doctors who complete a four-year radiology residency after medical school. Your radiologist will send a report to your primary care physician discussing the results and an action plan if needed within a few weeks. In the future, your primary care physician and radiologist may utilize your annual mammograms to observe and record any suspicious changes.

What are the potential risks associated with Mammograms?

Because mammograms are x-rays, patients are exposed to a minimal amount of radiation. The risk of harm from radiation exposure is very low and the benefits of mammograms outweigh the potential harm.

If something unexpected appears on your mammogram, your radiologist will compare it to previous mammograms and additional tests, such as an ultrasound or a breast tissue biopsy, may be needed. However, most findings detected on mammograms are not signs of cancer. 

Who can I talk to if I have questions?

Please contact your primary care physician at your Providence Community Health Center location – they know you best and can advise new patients as well.

You may also contact the National Cancer Institute.

For Medicare information, you can call 1-800 MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Contact Information

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Phone: 401-444-0400 | Contact Us