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Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center
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mins

Commonly Asked Questions

To schedule a mammogram:

What is the difference between a screening and a diagnostic mammogram?

A screening mammogram is your annual mammogram that is done every year. Sometimes, the radiologist may ask you to come back for follow-up images, called a diagnostic mammogram.

to rule out an unclear area in the breast. Additionally, if there is a breast complaint or concern (such as a lump) that needs to be evaluated, you'll have a diagnostic mammogram.

What is the benefit of a 3D mammogram over a 2D mammogram?

The 3D exam allows doctors to see masses and distortions associated with cancers significantly more clearly than conventional 2D mammography. Instead of viewing all of the complexities of your breast tissue in a flat image, as with conventional 2D mammography, fine details are more visible and no longer hidden by the tissue above or below.

Thus, a 3D exam detects 41% more invasive breast cancers and reduces false positives by up to 40%.

Who can have a 3D Mammogram exam?

A 3D exam is approved for all women who would undergo a standard 2D mammogram. Multiple clinical studies show that all women, regardless of breast type or density, benefit from a 3D exam.

Why Is A Yearly Screening Important?

I am going to answer this by talking about two stages of breast cancer: DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ) cancer cells are present and confined to the duct of the breast. These account for 25-30% of breast cancer. DCIS left untreated often becomes invasive carcinoma.

Invasive Carcinoma occurs when malignant cells break through the membranes of the duct and invade the surrounding tissue.

Obviously we want to "find" breast cancer at its earliest stage. This is accomplished by yearly mammography with careful comparison to prior year's images. By looking at changes from year to year, we are able to accurately detect small changes.

-Kristie Anderson, AS RT(R)(M)

 

How Long Will The Mammogram Take?

A routine screening mammography examination consists of taking two radiographic images of each breast, typically averaging 7-10 minutes for each patient.

- Wendy Mickelsen, MHE, RT(R)(M)


Everyone's breast tissue is different; what appears to be normal breast tissue in one patient may not be normal in another patient. The ideal situation in reading mammograms is to be able to compare to a prior study. This is not possible if it is a baseline mammogram (first mammogram), or if the prior images are not available. If you've had prior mammograms performed elsewhere, please provide us with the facility name and address so that every attempt can be made to acquire these studies.

If there has been a change from one mammogram to the next, the radiologist may request additional imaging. When the patient returns, a different exam is performed. The images acquired are positioned differently, may be magnified, and special compression paddles are used. Ultrasound may also be utilized. Most cases are resolved at this point and result in a normal study. A small percentage of cases cannot be resolved and biopsy is recommended.

It is also not uncommon for a patient who has had a baseline mammogram to be called for additional imaging because a comparison cannot be made, and the radiologist needs to establish the patient's normal breast tissue pattern.

When a patient is scheduled for additional imaging, this appointment is set up for a time when the radiologist is available to direct the specific imaging needed and review the images at the time of the appointment.

- Celia McKenzie, B.S. RT (R)(M)


In all breast tissue, there are areas of fatty tissue and glandular tissue. Some women have breasts that may be comprised of almost all fatty breast tissue. Others have a combination of fatty and glandular (scattered, fibroglandular densities). Some women have mostly glandular breast tissue with little or no fatty tissue, known as dense breast tissue. The reason for this difference can be genetic, hormonal, nutritional, or due to child bearing or breast feeding.

Fibroglandular or dense breasts are a condition, not a disease. Dense breasts do, however, limit the sensitivity of mammography and carry an increased risk of breast cancer. Simply said, this type of tissue is hard to "see through" and evaluate with complete accuracy.

On mammography, dense or extremely dense glandular tissue can "hide" an abnormal area. Dense breast tissue, if not compressed extremely well on mammography, can also give a false abnormal appearance. Both of these scenarios may lead to extra imaging, using a combination of mammography, ultrasound and/or breast MRI.

- Cari Medeiros, BS RT(R)(M)


The gold standard for breast cancer screening remains mammography. Mammography can show changes in breast tissue two years before it can be felt. This allows for early diagnoses and treatment, when breast cancer is most curable. Ultrasound cannot detect some of the very small changes that indicate early breast cancer. It is, however, an effective modality to be used in conjunction with mammography, when indicated.

- Cari Medeiros, BS RT(R)(M)

 

How Much Radiation Exposure Do I Get During A Mammogram?

Some women may be concerned about the radiation dose received during a mammography examination. According to the National Cancer Institute, mammograms require very small doses of radiation. In fact, the radiation dose received during a routine screening mammography examination is 0.7mSV (the same approximate dose as 3 months of comparable natural background radiation exposure).

- Wendy Mickelsen, MHE, RT(R)(M)

 

Do Men Ever Get Breast Cancer?

Although male breast cancers are rare (less than 1% of breast cancers), the incidence rate has increased .8% annually from 1975 to 2008. It is not recommended that men participate in screening mammography, but self-breast exam is appropriate for both males and females.

- Kristie Anderson, AS RT(R)(M)