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A digital 3D screening mammogram is a routine low dose x-ray of each breast performed to detect small abnormalities before they can be felt on an exam. Screening mammography is considered preventive and is usually covered by most insurance plans.
The purpose of the screening mammogram is to distinguish normal structures that are components of the breast tissue from abnormal lesions. 3D Mammograms can detect subtle differences in the cellular structure of the tissues.
Mammogram abnormalities may present as distortion, masses, or small white spots called cluster microcalcifications.
These findings may be hard to visualize without the best radiology imaging and interpretation. Obtaining the clearest images of the breast with digital mammograms allows the best opportunity to find an abnormality early.
The clearer the mammogram, the better the ability of the radiologist to visualize small cancers before they can be felt. The American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology recommend performing regular annual or biennial mammograms to look for abnormalities that may be the earliest signs of breast cancer.
Tell the scheduler if you have a disability that may require extra exam time, room accommodations or a translator. If you live a long distance away, let us know if you need your images read at the time of your study. Please tell us if you will be having any breast surgery, starting hormones, or beginning any treatment in the near future so that we may forward your results to all the specialists involved.
If you have breast implants, let us know as the imaging takes additional time;
If you have have a history of breast cancer, the technologist may need to perform extra imaging views;
If you have dense breast tissue, supplemental imaging such as bilateral whole breast ultrasound may be recommended;
If you have a strong family history of breast cancer, supplemental imaging such as breast MRI may be indicated.
Please do not apply deodorant on the day of your mammogram. Applying deodorant can interfere with the ability of the mammogram to distinguish aluminum artifacts (found in most deodorants) from microcalcifications which may be the earliest sign of breast cancer.
Wear a two-piece outfit if possible because you will be changing into a cotton robe so that the mammography technologist has the best access to perform the imaging exam.
Please tell us the location of your prior examinations so that we may request these ahead of your visit. Many radiology departments use PowerShare to electronically send your images to us. Note that some facilities will not release the outside images to us ahead of time until you have signed a release form when you first establish care at any of our Women’s Imaging Center locations. Our digital film librarian will gladly facilitate this process for you 303-321-2273 x 237
If this is your first mammogram, don’t worry. The technologist will walk you through the process of what positions are needed to obtain the best images. She will ensure you are comfortable during the imaging exam at every step. The technologist will position each breast onto a rectangular curved paddle and then apply gentle pressure. The amount of pressure needed for the correct exposure is based on the thickness and density of the breast.
We want to keep the breast in the same position, to avoid motion that may cause blurriness of the image. The mammography technologist will ask you to hold your breath for a few seconds while she obtains the exposure.
3D Screening mammograms use high-resolution low-dose x-rays of the breast. Typically two views of each breast are obtained. You will be repositioned four times, once for each view of each breast. If you have breast implants, four views will be obtained for each breast for a total of eight images. Our technologists are highly experienced in performing mammograms, including with implants.
The specialized Breast Radiologists at The Women’s Imaging Center interpret the images. Our radiologists are fellowship-trained in breast and women’s imaging and minimally invasive breast biopsy, far exceeding the national standards. They have trained at the most rigorous institutions in the county and have received the highest awards for excellence.
If you have prior mammograms elsewhere, they may be requested for the radiologist to compare before an opinion is rendered. You should receive a result letter in the mail within a week if no previous mammogram comparison is needed. Please check your address carefully on your intake form as the letter will be sent to that address. A report will also be faxed to the ordering clinician you list on your intake form.
If you are called back for “a closer look at an area” after a 3D screening mammogram, remember that most findings on a mammogram prove to be benign after additional workup. Since all of The Women’s Imaging Centers are integrated, we can quickly and seamlessly complete your diagnostic imaging workup. An abnormal finding may be related to fibrocystic or hormonal changes of the breast, but the Radiologist cannot appropriately assess the finding without “detailed” imaging. Basically, 3D Screening Mammography is “the big picture” while Diagnostic Mammography is “the detail”.
Additional imaging may consist of diagnostic mammography or medical diagnostic imaging such as ultrasound. These radiology images help to further characterize an area on the screening mammogram to distinguish benign (noncancerous) findings from malignancy (cancer).
If you are called back for added imaging, you will be able to discuss your results with the Radiologist. If there is still a question after the diagnostic breast imaging, the radiologist may recommend a minimally invasive breast biopsy. All of our minimally-invasive breast biopsies are performed in our Centers for your comfort and convenience. If a biopsy is indicated, then results will be available within two working days.
At The Women’s Imaging Center, you will have a whole Care Team involved with your care. Your team will consist of a mammography technologist, a specialized radiologist, a medical assistant, and a patient navigator.
Your Care Team ensures the continuity of screening to diagnosis to treatment when indicated. If treatment for an atypical, precancerous, or cancer result is needed, we can perform any additional pretreatment imaging such as MRI or needle localization at The Women’s Imaging Center.
The Care Team and navigator coordinate your care among other specialists including the radiologist, surgeon, or other specialists based on the recommendation of your referring clinician or within the continuity of care following the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines or the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommendations.