Mammograms are one of the most effective tools to detect breast cancer early, when there is an increased chance of survival. Our mammography staff sets the bar in providing comprehensive screenings and mindful consultation.
Mammography Screening for Early Breast Cancer Detection
We know that early detection is the best protection against breast cancer. For women over 40, this starts with regular self-exams and an annual mammogram. A mammogram is the most commonly used tool for early breast cancer detection. It is the best way for your doctor to detect a tumor in your breast - often before a lump can be felt. It is also used to evaluate a woman who has symptoms of a breast disease and can help tell the difference between noncancerous and cancerous disease.
A mammogram helps screen healthy women for signs of breast cancer. It is also used to evaluate a woman who has symptoms of a breast disease, such as a lump, nipple discharge, breast pain, dimpling of the skin on the breast or retraction of the nipple. A physician may recommend a screening mammogram as part of your routine annual exam or a diagnostic mammogram may be suggested if your physician detects an abnormality in your breast tissue.
What to expect from a mammogram
During a mammogram, the breast is compressed between two plastic plates while a series of low dose X-ray images are taken of your breast tissue. In most cases, the procedure will take less than 30 minutes.
At Franciscan Health we have radiologists who are highly-skilled at reading mammograms. In addition to a radiologist, your mammogram will also be reviewed by our computer-aided detection (CAD) system. The computer will scan the mammography image to look for any suspicious areas and mark those areas for further review by a radiologist. We use the combination of a skilled radiologist and CAD to ensure our patients receive the most accurate results possible.
Franciscan Health also offers 3D mammograms. Three-dimensional mammograms take early detection to the next level, with their ability to detect smaller breast cancers that could be hidden on a traditional mammogram.
When Should You Get A Screening Mammogram?
Franciscan Health endorses breast cancer screening guidelines set forth by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), a quality program of the American College of Surgeons, and the American Cancer Society.
Mammogram guidelines for average‐risk women
- Age 40-45: Begin annual mammograms as early as age 40 but no later than 45.
- Age 45-54: Continue annual mammograms.
- Age 55 and older: Can switch to mammograms every two years or continue on a yearly basis, if desired. Screenings should continue as long as the woman is in good health and expected to live 10 more years or longer.
- Self‐ and medically‐provided breast exams are no longer recommended for any age group.
Mammogram guidelines for high‐risk women
Women who are at a higher risk should begin annual mammograms and MRI screenings at age 30 and continue each year for as long as they are in good health. This includes women who:
- Have a lifetime breast cancer risk of 20‐25 percent or greater, according to risk‐assessment tools
- Have a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation (based on genetic testing)
- Have a first‐degree relative (parent, sibling or child) with a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation but have not had genetic testing done themselves