FAQ - Mammography

What is the difference between CT and MRI?
CT and MRI scans are both diagnostic tests that provide us with high-resolution pictures of the structure of any organ or area of the body. Both tests use computers to construct pictures of the inside of the body. There are, however, inherent differences in these tests' mechanisms, as well as sophistication and applications.

Do I need a referral from my doctor to schedule a mammogram?
A doctor referral is not necessary but we do advise you to start with your Doctor and a clinical breast examination.

What is a Mammogram?
A mammogram is an x-ray image of the breast that shows changes in the tissue, new lumps, or tiny clusters of calcium that can be the first signs of cancer that cannot be felt or seen on MRI, Ultrasound or breast self-exam. Mammography is the most effective method for detecting cancer in the early stages, and are often the first line of early detection. Generally, mammography is separated into 2 categories, Screening Mammograms and Diagnostic Mammograms.

Why do I need a Mammogram?
Mammograms can show breast lumps before they can be felt by breast self-exams or clinical breast exams. They can also show tiny clusters of calcium. These specks of calcium can be caused by cancer, fatty cells or other things like cysts. Additional screening methods may be needed to find out if abnormal cells are present. Routine screening mammograms can find the presence of cancerous cells before it grows or spreads which can greatly increase survivability.

What's the difference between Screening and Diagnostic Mammography?
Screening mammograms look for signs of cancers. “Screening” mammogram implies that there is nothing wrong, that there are no symptoms, no problems or complaints of breast disease – that neither you nor your doctor feel anything out of the ordinary. A screening mammogram normally is taken with 2 x-ray views of each breast. Although, for some women with larger breasts, additional images may be necessary. The goal of a screening mammogram is find breast cancer when it’s too small to be felt. This is a once-a year check done to make sure that subtle unsafe findings are not present. Yearly screening mammograms are recommended for all women starting at the age of 40 as well as a yearly clinical breast exam by your healthcare professional. If you have a higher risk for breast cancer your doctor may recommend a mammogram at an earlier age. Finding breast cancer as early as possible before it has grown or spread greatly improves a woman’s chance for a successful treatment.
Diagnostic mammograms investigate possible problems and involves additional views of the breast. These images are the same images as a screening mammogram, the difference is that we are focused on an area that was raised by you, your doctor or as indicated from a previous screening that showed an area standing out as abnormal from the surrounding tissue. It needs to be evaluated by a doctor on site while you are present. We will give you a clear understanding on what we need to do next. Sometimes diagnostic mammograms will be used for women who were previously treated for breast cancer.

What should woman with breast implants do about Screening Mammograms?
Women with breast implants should continue to have mammograms. (A woman who had an implant following a mastectomy should ask her doctor whether a mammogram of the reconstructed breast is necessary.) It is important to let the mammography facility know about breast implants when scheduling a mammogram. The technician and radiologist must be experienced in performing mammography 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 technician performing the procedure is aware that a woman has breast implants, steps can be taken to make sure that as much breast tissue as possible can be seen on the mammogram.

How much longer does a 3D Mammogram take than a 2D Mammogram?
The 3D image is obtained in the same manner as the 2D mammogram. The 3D images do not require any additional compression or views. It only takes an extra few seconds.

What is the best Mammogram test?
The highest quality mammogram is a Digital Mammogram with 3D tomography. This test will show breast masses and microcalcifications to the radiologist better than a 2D mammogram. The newest 3D mammography system is the Hologic Selenia Genius 3D mammogram which is available for you at University MRI and Diagnostic Imaging Centers. Our radiologist Dr Gerald Schmidt will review your images with you immediately after your mammography exam and show you the value of tomosynthesis.

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