Keeping Your Breasts Healthy
Nearly one in every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Fortunately, the American Cancer Society reports that breast cancer deaths are declining, most likely because of early detection and improved treatment.
Routine care for women of all ages is vital to keeping you and your breasts healthy and should include annual mammograms with clinical breast exams, in addition to regular self-examinations.
Mammography (also called a mammogram) is an X-ray examination of the breast. Doctors use mammograms to detect and diagnose breast disease in women who have breast symptoms, such as a lump or pain, or for women who have no breast complaints.
A mammogram allows doctors to detect breast cancers, benign tumors, and cysts before they can be detected by touch (palpitation).
Mammogram Services Near You
University of Utah Health and Huntsman Cancer Institute provide comprehensive mammograms at the Huntsman Cancer Institute and local University of Utah Health health centers. These services include the following:
- Diagnostic screening for breast cancer
- Care for people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and other breast conditions
- Genetic counseling, which is available if you are concerned about your chance of developing this disease based on your family history
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What to Expect
Because breast tissue can be very dense and difficult to screen, the mammogram equipment will press your breast between two plates to spread the tissue apart.
Does a Mammogram Hurt?
Most women find mammograms uncomfortable. During a mammogram, your technician will press (or compress) your breast between two plates. But the compression only lasts for a few seconds—just long enough for your technician to get a good image of each of your breasts. It's important to get the best images possible.
Before your mammogram, ask your technician to explain the procedure as well as any other questions you have.
How Long Does a Mammogram Take?
There are generally two types of mammograms: a screening mammogram and a diagnostic mammogram. A screening mammogram will take less time than a diagnostic mammogram.
- Screening mammogram: A screening mammogram is an X-ray of the breast used to detect breast changes in women who have no signs of breast cancer. By using a mammogram, health care professionals can detect a tumor that you can't feel with your hand.
Time: About 15 minutes
- Diagnostic mammogram: A diagnostic mammogram is an X-ray of the breast doctors use to diagnose unusual breast changes, such as a lump, pain, nipple thickening or discharge, or a change in breast size or shape.
A diagnostic mammogram takes more pictures than a screening mammogram. Health care providers also use diagnostic mammograms to evaluate abnormalities detected on a screening mammogram.
Time: Screening time depends on what the imaging specialist needs to make a diagnosis
Your physician will receive your results, and you will then get a letter explaining these results. If you need more imaging, the clinic will call you within a few days of the screening exam.
Coming From Another Health Institution?
If you're coming to us from another institution, we need a copy of an earlier mammogram for comparison. Your exam results will be delayed if we need to order some of your past images.