Advances in technology are helping to detect breast cancer in its earliest—and most curable—stage. At CHI Health St Mary’s, our digital mammography screenings provide the highest level of accuracy for even the smallest tumors.
With this advanced, low-dose radiation technology, image capture is instant, crystal-clear and can be zoomed in for further review. Such speed and precision means we’ll have your mammogram screening results within 24 hours. More importantly, if anything suspicious is found, we’ll make sure you receive all follow-up testing—including a biopsy, if necessary—within a matter of days, not weeks.
Take charge of your breast health—contact your provider for a referral and then call CHI Health St. Mary’s at (402) 873-8912 to schedule your digital mammography screening.
Why a Digital Mammogram Screening is Performed
A mammography screening is performed to:
- Screen healthy women for signs of breast cancer
- Further evaluate an abnormal finding on a physical exam
- Monitor and follow a woman who has had an abnormal mammogram
- Evaluate a woman who has symptoms of a breast disease, such as a lump, nipple discharge, breast pain, dimpling of the skin on the breast or retraction of the nipple
The American Cancer Society recommends that women begin breast cancer screening at age 40 and have repeat mammograms every year. Women with a mother or sister who had breast cancer should consider yearly mammograms 10 years earlier than the age at which their youngest family member was diagnosed.
What to Expect During Your First Mammogram
The best way to beat breast cancer is early detection. Studies show regular mammograms save lives. A mammogram is used as a screening tool to check for abnormalities in the breast. Your first mammogram should be scheduled at age 40 – sooner in women with a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors.
A mammogram is an x-ray picture or image of the breast. This allows your doctor to look inside the breast for tumors or calcifications that cannot be felt. The first mammogram is used to establish a baseline for future mammograms.
Here’s what you need to know
When you arrive for a mammogram you will be given a gown and asked to undress from the waist up. If you are wearing deodorant, creams or powder, you will need to wipe it off. Your technologist will place your breast on the plate of the imaging machine– the machine will then compress the breast to take the picture. Several images will be taken – each lasting just a few seconds.
Some women say that mammograms are uncomfortable. You may experience some discomfort but it’s brief. If you schedule the test when you’re breasts are less sensitive – not right before your period – this will help. You can also take a pain reliever before your appointment. It is important to let your technologist know if you are having any discomfort so adjustments can be made.
Once the screening is over, the results will be reviewed by a radiologist and sent to your doctor. A call back doesn’t necessarily mean cancer. It does mean that additional images are needed. This is also a good time to schedule your next mammogram – so it’s on the calendar for the following year.
3D Mammography is also available. Learn more about 3D Mammography.
Understanding the Results of Your Mammography Screening
Breast tissue that shows no signs of a mass or abnormal calcification is considered normal.
Most abnormal findings on a mammogram screening turn out to be benign or nothing to worry about. However, any new findings or changes must be further evaluated.
Your CHI Health radiologist may see the following types of findings on a mammogram:
- A well-outlined, round nodule (this is more likely to be a noncancerous condition such as a cyst)
- Masses or lumps
- Dense areas in the breast that could potentially hide breast cancer
- Tiny deposits of calcium in your breast tissue called calcifications, most of what are not a sign of cancer
The American College of Radiology (ACR) has developed a grading system for radiology doctors to use when they report the results of a mammography screening. Terms you may hear your doctor use include:
- Benign (noncancerous) finding
- Probably benign
- Suspicious abnormality
- Highly suggestive of malignancy or cancer
- Incomplete (needs additional imaging evaluation)
Often, the following tests are also needed:
- Additional mammogram views, sometimes called magnification or compression views
- Breast MRI exam
- Breast ultrasound
- Breast biopsy
Comparing your current mammogram screening to your past mammograms helps your radiologist tell whether you had an abnormal finding in the past, and whether it has changed.
When mammogram or ultrasound results look suspicious, a biopsy is done to test the tissue to see if it is cancerous.