This procedure uses very low doses of radiation to obtain images of the breasts, allowing doctors to detect small cancers even before they can be felt. A radiologist will interpret your mammogram and provide your physician with a written report.

What to expect during your mammography exam

Mammograms are used for two purposes, and the procedure varies for each:

Screening mammogram (for women without disease symptoms):
You’ll change into a gown, and each breast will be compressed for a few seconds while x-rays are taken. The procedure is a bit uncomfortable, but necessary for an accurate evaluation. After the exam, we’ll ask you to wait until the technologist examines the images. Around ten percent of women will be called back after a screening mammogram for additional mammogram views or ultrasound imaging to get a better view of a particular area.

Diagnostic mammogram (for women with lumps, skin changes, nipple discharge, a history of breast cancer or other symptoms/special conditions):
A diagnostic mammogram is essentially the same procedure as a screening mammogram but may include additional views or special techniques to magnify suspicious areas or obtain a better analysis of normal breast tissue. A diagnostic mammogram may take up to one hour, depending on how many views are needed.

Learn how to prepare for your digital mammography exam.