About Mammograms

What is a Mammogram?

A screening mammogram is the best tool available for finding breast cancer early, before symptoms appear. A mammogram is a special kind of x-ray that produces detailed images of the breast that are stored directly in a computer (digital). The Breast Center uses state of the art full-field digital mammography equipment to provide sharper and more detailed images of breast tissue for evaluation.

Mammograms can often detect a breast lump before it can be felt. Also, a mammogram can show small deposits of calcium in the breast. Although most calcium deposits are benign (not cancerous), a cluster of tiny specks of calcium (called micro-calcifications) may be an early sign of cancer.

Why Digital Mammograms?

These computerized images can be manipulated on the computer allowing the radiologist to examine the tissue more closely. In addition they are able to be stored and retrieved easily for additional review. For some women digital images do make a difference in finding cancer. The large multi-center Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial (DMIST) determined that digital mammography was better at finding cancer among women who:

  • are premenopausal or peri-menopausal
  • are under age 50
  • have dense breast tissue

From the patient's perspective, the digital exam is quicker, but compression of the breast is required for both film and digital mammography.

What is Computer Aided Detection or CAD?

Computer Aided Detection is a sophisticated computer program that has been shown to increase the accuracy of mammography interpretation by as much as 20%. After the radiologist has reviewed the screening mammogram, the CAD system scans the image and alerts the radiologist to look at any potentially suspicious areas. It is like having a second look at every screening mammogram.

Preparing For Your Mammogram:

In order to provide a quality mammogram, the certified mammography technologist must compress the breast tissue. For some women, this may be somewhat sensitive. The technologist will work with you in order to maximize your comfort while providing a high-quality image. Please know that your comfort and the quality of your mammogram are our priorities.

The following are some tips for an easier and better quality mammogram:

  • Do not use any deodorant or powder the day of your exam. You may bring deodorant with you to use after the exam if you wish.
  • If your breasts are particularly sensitive to the compression used during a screening mammography it may be advisable to avoid eating or drinking any thing containing caffeine for 72 hours before the day of the exam. However, if you have not had any discomfort from mammograms in the past, then refraining from caffeine may not be necessary.
  • If your last mammography was not done at Glens Falls Hospital, you will need to bring previous films and reports from any other facilities with you the day of the exam or make arrangements to have them sent prior to the exam. These are necessary for comparison with your current exam so any changes can be identified.