The American Cancer Society provides guidelines, answers to questions and stories from those who have
been touched by cancer.
The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services gives information and resources related to the coverage,
billing, delivery, and promotion of screening mammography.
The National Women’s Health Information Center contains many resources about women’s overall health.
Of particular interest is its information on breast cancer.
The Cancer Information Service, a national information and education network, is a free public service
of the National Cancer Institute. The CIS is your source for the latest, most accurate cancer information
for patients, their families, the general public, and health professionals.
The creation of the Office of Women’s Health in 1994 by the Food and Drug Administration established
a new chapter in the agency's commitment to women's health issues. Since its creation, OWH has established
itself as an effective voice for women's health concerns.
The National Cancer Institute provides the latest breast cancer research advances.
The Mammography Saves Lives coalition was founded to reduce confusion regarding when and how often women should receive mammograms. This confusion may cause women to not start getting annual mammograms at age 40 and put them at increased risk of dying from breast cancer.
Copyright Breast Diagnostic Center 2013
Why should I do a breast self-exam?
Monthly breast self-exams (BSE) can help you know how your breasts normally feel and look,
so you can notice any changes. Most breast changes or lumps are not cancerous, but only a
health care provider can tell you for sure. BSE is recommended to be performed at the same
time every month, a few days after your period ends.
What am I looking for when I do a breast self-exam?
You are looking for a lump or change that stands out as different from the rest of your
breast tissue. If you find a lump or other change in your breast, examine the other breast.
If both breasts feel the same, the lumpiness is probably normal. As you get to know your
breasts better by doing breast self-exams, you should be able to tell the difference
between your normal lumpiness and a possible change.
- skin irritation or dimpling
- nipple pain or retraction (turning inward)
- redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin
- a discharge other than breast milk
If you experience any of these changes, you should see your health care provider right away.
What is the difference between a screening and diagnostic mammogram?
Screening mammography is an exam for women who have no symptoms of breast cancer.
Diagnostic mammography may include additional views of the breast and is used when an
abnormality is found during screening or in women who have breast complaints, such as a
breast mass, nipple discharge, breast pain or skin irritation. A diagnostic mammogram
requires a physician order.
What should I expect during a mammogram?
A mammogram takes approxiamtely 15 minutes and can be scheduled by you or your physician.
During the mammogram, two to four pictures of each breast may be taken. Compression is
necessary to spread the tissue to allow better detection at the lowest radiation dosage.
Are mammograms painful?
Breast compression may cause slight discomfort for a brief time during each x-ray, but it
should not be painful. To lessen this discomfort, you should abstain from caffeine intake
for two weeks prior to your appointment. The Mammo pad is a foam pad which may lessen your
discomfort. Just ask the technologist at the time of your mammogram.
How do I prepare for a mammogram?
Before scheduling a mammogram, the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that you discuss
any new findings or problems in your breasts with your doctor. In addition, inform your doctor
of any prior surgeries, hormone use, and family or personal history of breast cancer.
Do not schedule your mammogram for the week before your period if your breasts are usually tender
during this time. The best time for a mammogram is one week following your period. Always inform your
doctor or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that you are pregnant
The ACS also recommends you:
- Do not wear deordorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts on the day of the exam.
These can appear on the mammogram as calcium spots.
- Describe any breast symptoms or problems to the technologist performing the exam.
- If possible, obtain prior mammograms and make them available to the radiologist at the time of the current exam.
- Ask when your results will be available; do not assume the results are normal if you do not hear from your doctor or the mammography facility.
What are the new guidelines for receiving a mammogram?
If you are confused about the recent mammogram guidelines announced by the U.S. Preventative Task Force,
you are not alone. The recommendation for women in their 40s to forgo mammograms and women aged 50 to 74
get mammograms every other year rather than once a year has been met with harsh criticism from other
At the Breast Diagnostic Center, we believe this announcement is no cause for concern and you should
continue to be empowered and proactive about leading a healthy life.
Early detection, along with annual mammograms, has helped to identify 25 newly diagnosed breast-cancer
patients under 50 in the last year at the Breast Diagnostic Center. For this reason, the physicians at
FWRadiology and Breast Diagnostic Center continue to support and recommend the guidelines promoted by
the American Cancer Society and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that annual
mammograms for women should begin at age 40.
Mammograms should continue to be an important tool in saving lives of women.