Mammography remains the best method for early breast cancer detection. New digital technology is gradually replacing traditional film-based mammograms the same way digital cameras have replaced film cameras. Traditional film screen mammography is limited in its ability to detect some cancers, especially those occurring in women with radiographically dense breasts. For this reason, extensive efforts to improve mammography have occurred.
At Zwanger-Pesiri, we are proud to offer digital mammography for the earliest detection of breast cancer at 15 offices across Nassau and Suffolk. Every unit performs 2D and 3D imaging for the most comprehensive study. Read more about 3D mammography, the newest breakthrough in breast imaging.
A digital mammogram includes standard 2D images. If you also have the 3D examination, the combination of the 2D and 3D exposes you to about twice the radiation as a standard digital screening mammogram. The total exposure is equal to that of an old traditional film based mammogram. To put your exposure into everyday terms, a 2D mammogram with additional 3D images is equal to your radiation exposure if you:
- Flew 2,000 miles
- Drove 600 miles
- Rode a bike for 20 miles
- Breathed the air in Boston or New York City for 4 days
When you factor in that screening mammograms with 3D imaging reduces callbacks by more than 50%, in addition to false positives and false negatives, the radiation exposure is a minimal concern at best.
What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is a specialized x-ray of the breasts. It is a non-invasive test used for the detection of cancer and to diagnose other breast diseases.
Mammograms use very low doses of radiation. Digital mammograms not only provide more detail than traditional film units, but use even less radiation (about 22% less).
Digital mammography may be used to evaluate breast lesions up to two years before an abnormality can be felt or for subtle changes in the breast that could be early signs of breast cancer.
How does mammography work?
During a mammogram, a low dose x-ray is directed through your breast while compressed between two plastic plates. Only the breast is exposed to the x-ray.
The images of the mammogram are recorded directly on a highly sensitive digital detector similar to, but much larger than, those found in a digital camera. When images are recorded on digital detectors rather than on old fashioned film, it is called a digital mammogram. With a digital mammogram, the images of your breast are available immediately. There is no film to be developed.
Digital mammograms use less radiation and have a higher cancer detection rate when compared to traditional film mammograms. This is especially true in younger women and in women with denser breast tissue.
This type of mammogram is for women who have no symptoms. A baseline, or starting point for comparison, is performed for women at age 40. Then it is recommended that mammograms be performed every 1 to 2 years after that. If there is a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors, your doctor may recommend a screening mammogram at a younger age.
This type of mammogram is performed when some kind of unusual or abnormal condition has been detected. This could be a lump or unusual breast condition that you may have found during your own breast self-exam, following a routine screening mammogram, as a result of something your doctor detected during your breast examination or as a result of your own breast history. These types of mammograms generally take a little longer than screening mammograms, as they often include additional special angulation or compression views.
How do I prepare?
Be sure to inform us if you have breast implants. Do not wear any deodorant, antiperspirant, lotions, perfumes or powders on your breasts or under your arms on the day of your mammogram. These could interfere with the clarity of your images.
Wear shorts, pants or a skirt, so you will only have to remove your bra and top. A gown will be provided.
If you are still menstruating, try not to make your appointment the week before you expect your period. The American Cancer Society recommends you schedule your mammogram during the week following your period, as your breasts will be less tender and swollen and the exam will be more comfortable.
Bring with you to your appointment:
What do I do when I arrive?
Present your prescription, insurance card and completed forms at the front desk. If any additional forms are required, they will be given to you at this time.
Be sure to inform the receptionist and technologist if you:
Plan to arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
What happens during the test?
After changing into a gown, you will stand in front of a special x-ray machine. The technologist will place your breasts, one at a time, between two plates. The plates will move to compress and flatten your breast, giving a very uniform breast thickness so that a clear picture of your breast tissue can be taken. You will feel a little pressure, but it is only for a few seconds. The flatter your breast tissue, the better the picture.
For screening mammograms, multiple images are taken of each breast from above and from different angles.
A mammography takes about 15 minutes.
What happens after the test?
One of our board certified radiologists specializing in breast imaging interprets your mammogram, compares them to any previous studies and dictates a report. The report is then faxed and mailed to your referring doctor within one or two days. Your doctor will read the report and review the findings with you.
You will also receive an email or a letter directly from us within one week. If our radiologist feels you need additional views, we will contact you to schedule an appointment and we will also notify your doctor.