The earlier breast cancer is found, the better the chances that treatment will work. The goal is to find cancers before they start to cause symptoms. The size of a breast cancer and how far it has spread are the most important factors in predicting the outcome.

A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. It is the best way to detect breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage. It can find breast cancer that is too small for you, your doctor or a nurse to feel.

At Mercy Health, we recommend regular screening mammography:

  • Women ages 50–74 with no additional risk factors for breast cancer should get a screening mammogram every 2 years.  
  • Women ages 40–49 may benefit from regular mammograms, depending on their risk factors. Talk to your doctor about when you need to get screened.
  • If you are under age 40 with a family history of breast cancer, talk to your doctor about when you need to get screened.
  • Men who have breast masses are evaluated similarly to women, including mammograms.

Mercy Health is equipped with the most advanced imaging technology including digital mammography, breast ultrasound and breast MRI to discover health issues, before they become problems.

Screening and Diagnostic Mammography Services

  • 2D mammogram
  • 3D mammogram (digital tomosynthesis)
  • Mobile mammogram
  • Diagnostic mammogram
  • Molecular breast imaging
  • Breast MRI
  • Breast ultrasound

What to Expect

A mammogram is performed by compressing the patient's breast between two plates to capture the image of the breast tissue. While you may experience some discomfort, the breast needs to be compressed to increase the image quality and lower the exposure to radiation. At least two images are taken of each breast. Each breast is X-rayed once from top to bottom and once at a slight angle. The mammography images are then reviewed by a radiologist.

Feeling a bit nervous is normal, especially if it’s your first screening. That’s why we want you to know that:

  • Most women say the procedure is much easier than they expected, and are glad to have gotten it done.
  • Mammograms are covered by most health insurance programs with little or no cost to you.
  • They only take about 10–15 minutes.

Screening vs. Diagnostic Mammogram

A screening mammogram is an X-ray exam of the breasts in a woman who has no complaints or symptoms of breast cancer. The goal is to detect cancer when it is still too small to be felt. Screening mammograms include 2D and 3D imaging.

A diagnostic mammogram is best for anyone who notices any change in their breast like a lump or hardening when examining the breast or armpits, has a family history of breast cancer, or has an abnormality found during a screening mammogram. It involves two or more X-ray views of the breast.

Types of Breast Imaging We Offer

2D Mammogram

In 2D mammograms, images are taken only from the front and side. This digital X-ray image of the breast is recommended for most routine breast cancer screenings.

3D Mammogram (Digital Tomosynthesis)

in 3D mammograms, the machine takes multiple two-dimensional X-ray images of the breast from many angles. Computer software combines the multiple 2D images into a three-dimensional image. Breast tomosynthesis is not a standard breast cancer screening tool at this time.

Mobile Mammography

These mobile units use the same high-quality technology and equipment you will find at any of our imaging centers with both 3D and 2D screening options. The vans move from location to location to provide convenient mammography services to women all over a region.

Upcoming Mobile Mammography Events

Diagnostic Mammogram

A mammogram used to check symptoms of breast cancer (such as a lump) or an abnormal finding noted on a screening mammogram or clinical breast exam. It involves two or more X-ray views of the breast.

Molecular Breast Imaging

A technique under study for use in the early detection of breast cancer. Nuclear medicine imaging uses short-term radioactive agents given through an IV. Cancer cells absorb these agents and can be imaged with a special camera. Nuclear medicine imaging is not a standard breast cancer screening tool. Breast-specific gamma imaging and scintimammography are types of nuclear medicine imaging.

Breast MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

An imaging technique that uses a magnet linked to a computer to make detailed pictures of organs or soft tissues in the body.

An MRI scan uses radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays. A computer translates these waves into a very detailed picture. Special types of MRI scans can be used to better examine cancers found on mammograms or to diagnose women who have a high risk of breast cancer.

Breast Ultrasound

A breast ultrasound uses sound waves to make images of tissues and organs. The image is called a sonogram. A breast ultrasound scan is a good method to use along with mammography. It is widely available and costs less than other tests. Usually, it is used to look at a certain area of concern found on a mammogram. It also helps to tell the difference between cysts and solid masses, without using a needle to draw out fluid.

Why Choose Mercy Health?

Not only does Mercy Health offer top breast cancer experts and innovative technology, but we are dedicated to finding the treatment that is best for you. Our expert, compassionate caregivers will discuss all treatment options with you. Reach out today to learn more or to find a breast cancer expert near you.

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