Frequently Asked Questions
Why does it matter WHO reads your mammogram?
Breast imaging is all that we do. Our dedicated breast radiologists are highly experienced and are Board Certified by the American Board of Radiology. They have the training and experience to ensure an accurate reading.
Rose Imaging Specialists radiologists who work at Austin Breast Imaging spend greater than 90% of their clinical time performing breast imaging, and each physician interprets between 5,000 and 15,000 screening and diagnostic mammograms annually.
Research shows that the experience of the radiologist is the most critical factor in ensuring the most accurate results.*
*Buist D, Andreson ML, Haneuse SJ, et.al. Influence of Annual Interpretive Volume on Screening
Mammography Performance in the United States. Radiology/2011; 259-1:72-84
What is the difference between a regular mammogram and 3D Mammogram, or Digital Breast Tomosythesis?
The equipment for a 3D mammogram appears identical to a standard digital mammogram except that the tube head moves and makes an arc at the time of the exposure. Currently, the breast is compressed similar to a standard mammogram. Our technologists specifically trained and will work with you to make the exam as comfortable as possible. Most patients experience no significant difference between 2D and 3D mammograms.
When 3D is added to your standard digital mammogram, a “movie” of the breast tissue is created for the radiologist. This allows for a clearer picture of the tissue. Our research shows this new technology, combined with our highly specialized breast imaging radiologists who read the mammograms, provide women with a more accurate mammogram that results in the peace of mind they deserve concerning their breast health.
Do I need an order from my doctor for my screening mammogram?
No. Just provide us with the name of your doctor or health care provider and we will contact them.
Who needs to have a mammogram and how often should it be performed?
The American Cancer Society recommends that women of average risk, age 40 and older, should have a mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health. Women at higher risk of breast cancer based on family history may need to begin screening at an earlier age.
What should I do before I schedule a mammogram or any procedure?
Discuss any new findings or problems in your breasts with your doctor prior to scheduling your test. In addition, inform your doctor of any previous biopsies, surgeries, hormonal use, and family or personal history of breast cancer.
What time of the month is best for a mammogram?
If you are still having menstrual periods, you may schedule a mammogram anytime of the month. However, if your breasts are usually tender during your period, you may want to have your mammogram or procedure performed within two weeks after your menstrual period ends.
In addition please remember:
- Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts on the day of the exam. The residue left on your skin by these substances may interfere with interpretation of the mammogram.
- If possible, obtain prior mammograms and make them available to the radiologist at the time of the current exam.
- For your safety, please notify our scheduling department and technologists if you believe you may be pregnant or if you have breast implants.
What if I have dense breasts?
In a recent issue of Radiology, 3D mammography was shown to benefit all women regardless of their breast density. ”The use of mammography plus tomosynthesis in a screening environment resulted in a significantly higher cancer detection rate and enabled the detection of more invasive cancers while reducing the number of false positives.” *
*Comparison of Digital Mammography Alone and Digital Mammography plus Tomosythesis in a Population-based Screening Program. Radiology: Volume 267: Number 1—April 2013
What will happen during my mammogram? Will it hurt?
Our technologists are dedicated to breast imaging and take special care to make the experience as comfortable as possible. You will need to remove any jewelry that might interfere with the X-ray picture. You will need to remove your clothes above the waist, and you will be given a robe for the test.
One at a time, your breasts will be positioned on a flat plate that will acquire the image while a paddle compresses your breast tissue. Firm compression is needed to spread out the tissue and obtain a high-quality image. You will be instructed to hold your breath during the exam for just a few seconds of compression. You may be asked to lift your arm or use your hand to hold your other breast out of the way. Usually at least two pictures are taken of each breast, one from the top and one from the side.
The entire exam takes only 15 minutes.
Why do I need to have an annual mammogram?
Early detection of breast cancer with screening mammography means that treatment can be started earlier in the course of the disease, possibly before it has spread. Results from randomized clinical trials and other studies show that screening mammography reduces the number of deaths from breast cancer among women.
What are some of the limitations of screening mammograms?
False-positive results can occur with screening mammograms. False-positive results occur when radiologists decide mammograms are abnormal but no cancer is actually present. All abnormal mammograms should be followed up with additional testing (diagnostic mammograms and/or ultrasound). Based on these additional tests, the radiologist will decide whether or not a biopsy is necessary to determine whether cancer is present.
False-positive results are more common for younger women, women who have had previous breast biopsies, women with a family history of breast cancer, and women who are taking estrogen.
Will I be exposed to radiation?
Mammograms require very small doses of radiation. The risk of harm from this radiation exposure is extremely low. The benefits of mammography, however, nearly always outweigh the potential harm from the radiation exposure. In fact, the amount of radiation exposure from a mammogram is equivalent to these common activities:
- Traveling 70 miles by air or 10 miles by car
- Smoking 1/8 of a cigarette
- Simply existing for 3 minutes at age 60 years
- Sunbathing for 2 hours
What is the best method of detecting breast cancer as early as possible?
Getting a high-quality screening mammogram from a dedicated breast radiologist and having a clinical breast exam on a regular basis are the most effective ways to detect breast cancer early.
Checking one’s own breasts for lumps or other unusual changes is called a breast self-exam, or BSE. This type of exam cannot replace regular screening mammograms or clinical breast exams. In clinical trials, BSE alone was not found to help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer.
Although regular BSE is not specifically recommended for breast cancer screening, many women choose to examine their own breasts. Women who do so should remember that breast changes can occur because of pregnancy, aging, or menopause; during menstrual cycles; or when taking birth control pills or other hormones. It is normal for breasts to feel a little lumpy and uneven. Also, it is common for breasts to be swollen and tender right before or during a menstrual period. If a woman notices any unusual changes in her breasts, she should contact her health care provider.
What if I have breast implants?
Women with breast implants should continue to have mammograms. (A woman who has an implant following a mastectomy should ask her doctor whether a mammogram of the reconstructed breast is necessary.) It is important to let us know about breast implants when scheduling a mammogram. Our technologists are very experienced in performing mammograms on women who have breast implants.
Implants can hide some breast tissue, making it more difficult for the radiologist to detect an abnormality on the mammogram. If the technologist performing the procedure is aware that a woman has breast implants, additional images are taken to make sure that as much breast tissue as possible can be seen on the mammogram.
When will I get the results of my test?
A radiologist will interpret your exam. The technologists who administer the test cannot interpret or discuss what they are viewing while performing the exam. For screening mammograms, a report will be sent to your physician’s office to convey the results. You will also receive a letter in the mail from your imaging facility. For diagnostic mammograms or ultrasounds, you will receive results before you leave the facility. For biopsies, results will be available to your referring physician within about five business days.