What is the difference between a Screening Mammogram and a Diagnostic Mammogram?
A screening mammogram consists of two standard images of each breast and the exam is performed on an annual basis on patients that are not experiencing any breast problems. A diagnostic mammogram is done when the patient is has a breast concern or problem, such as a lump or discharge, or when the patient is called back for additional images based on a screening mammography finding.
Why can’t I just have an ultrasound instead of a mammogram?
An ultrasound is usually performed to further analyze an abnormality seen on a mammogram and can assist in determining the need for further testing. Breast ultrasound is not recommended as a screening tool alone. There can be findings in the breast that cannot be detected by ultrasound and can only been seen with mammography. It is also challenging, if not impossible, to scan all portions of both breasts in a patient of average or large breast size.
Why do I have to bring my previous mammogram for comparison?
It is important that the radiologist have the comparison images to assist in the reading of the current study in order to detect the subtle changes that may have occurred in the past year. Without knowing what your breast tissue looked like in previous exams, there may be unnecessary additional workup done or a subtle breast tissue change may not be noted if there is nothing to compare it to.
When do I get my results?
A screening mammogram patient will typically receive a letter with their results within one week unless we are waiting on previous films for comparison from another facility.
A diagnostic mammogram patient will receive their results the day of the exam. The radiologist will look at the images and any additional imaging will be done at that time.
Will I get to speak with a doctor?
In most cases, a diagnostic mammography patient will speak with the doctor regarding their results. Screening mammography patients will not speak with the doctor, but if there were a particular question or issue that you would like to discuss with him, we would try to accommodate your request or have the radiologist call you.
Is Digital Mammography better than Film/Screen Mammography?
Yes. According to the New England Journal of Medicine (Oct 27, 2005, Vol 353, No 17), digital mammography is shown to be superior in imaging pre-menopausal and peri-menopausal women and women who are age 50 and younger. It is also better for imaging women with dense breasts due to its increased sensitivity. In no category of their testing did digital mammography perform worse than film mammography.
Why do you have to compress my breast?
Mammography can be a rather uncomfortable procedure, but should not be unbearably painful. The compression that is used in mammography is to serve the purpose of spreading out the breast tissue so that the tissues aren’t overlapping. This is in part to ensure that a suspicious area isn’t hiding under an area of thick, dense tissue.
Why are the machines so cold?
We make every effort to provide patients with a comfortable exam. Because of the digital equipment that is used to perform the testing, there are certain temperature ranges that the rooms must be maintained at to keep the x-ray tube functioning properly. Though we have to stay within this range, we do try to make the patient as comfortable as possible.