Lakeland Health Care

Digital Mammography

Lakeland Center for Outpatient Services
3900 Hollywood Road
St. Joseph, MI 49085

Breast Cancer and Mammograms
Breast cancer accounts for 25 percent of cancer in women. Early detection is the real key to the success of treating breast cancer. The sooner breast cancer detection occurs, the better one's outlook of having a healthier, brighter future.

Mammography is a vital part of the early detection program. It is a simple, almost painless procedure. This specific type of image is taken with a low-dose x-ray system for the examination of a woman's breasts to monitor for breast cancer. These images may be viewed by the radiologist on film at a view box or as a soft copy on a digital mammography work station.

The images are used to diagnose the condition of a patient with a finding of possible breast cancer. The physical findings of breast cancer may include: lumps in the breast or armpit, thickening or dimpling of the skin, discharge from the nipple, and a nipple that has recently become inverted (pulled in).

This fact sheet has been developed to try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about a mammogram. If you still have questions after reading this literature, please call the Imaging Department at the Lakeland Center for Outpatient Services at 269.556.2820.

Your Mammogram
Your exam will take about 20-30 minutes. When you arrive you will be asked to remove your top garments and be given a hospital gown. Your medical history will be reviewed and you will be taken into the imaging room. A registered mammographer will position your breasts on the imaging tray.

Your breasts will be firmly positioned between two pieces of special plastic, enabling all of the breast tissue to be accurately imaged.

Breast compression is necessary to:

  • Spread and even out the breast tissue thickness.
  • Allow for a decreased amount of an x-ray dose.
  • Limit the breast movement to eliminate blurring.
  • Reduce the x-ray scatter to increase the sharpness of the image taken.

This is done to both breasts with an above and side view taken. Afterwards, the registered mammographer or radiologist might conduct a physical breast examination.

Digital Mammograms with CAD
A digital mammogram with Computer Aided Detection (CAD) is similar to the traditional mammogram. It is a safe, low-dose image or x-ray taken of the breast to produce detailed images. We use the latest GE 2000D with CAD R2 and FDA-approved technology in our imaging department at the Lakeland Center for Outpatient Services.

The digital mammogram with CAD is taken at various angles. Usually four pictures are digitally produced, from which the physician is able to zoom in or out and visualize breast tissue in an optimized way. The images are immediately electonically generated on a computer, without the wait period for the x-ray film to be developed. This allows for a shorter exam time for the patient. Improved technology decreases the need for repeat films and thereby decreases exposure time to the x-ray dose.

Dense Breasts
Digital Mammography with CAD is a better method of imaging for denser breast tissue because it allows better viewing of the dense glandular tissue.

After the mammogram is completed, the radiologist will study the images and compare them to any previous mammogram, if available. A report is typed and sent to the healthcare provider who ordered your mammogram. A letter is sent to each patient with the results in easy to understand wording. Your results will be available from your provider within three to four days after your mammogram. The mammographers are not allowed to release any results of your mammogram. Your physician will discuss the results with you.

Preparing for Your Mammogram

  • Avoid using deodorant, talcum powder, lotion or • ointment on your chest, breasts or underarms.
  • Dress comfortably. A two-piece outfit works well, • as you will need to undress to the waist for the exam.
  • Try to schedule the appointment for your • mammogram to be a week after your menstrual cycle ends, when your breasts are usually less tender.

Risk Factors
You may be at risk for developing breast cancer if you:

  • have a mother or sister with breast cancer or have a family history of breast cancer, or you have inherited a gene for breast cancer.
  • had our first menstrual cycle before the age of 12, menopause after the age of 50 years of age, or are post-menopausal.
  • have not had your children before reaching the age of 30 or have never had children.
  • did not breast feed your children.
  • have more than one or two 2-ounce glasses of alcohol a day, if any.
  • are more than 15 pounds above your ideal weight.
  • have ever had radiation treatment to your chest, aside from mammograms.

One in four women have no risk factors, and your risk for developing breast cancer increases as you age. It is also important to note that 70% of all women with some form of breast cancer had no known risk factors in their life.*

*Grayson, C., 2003. Medical Information from the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center. Retrieved on March 12, 2004 from

Who should have a Mammogram?

  • Women over 40 years of age should have • an annual mammogram, and obtain an annual clinical breast exam (CBE) from their healthcare provider. They should also perform a monthly breast self exam (BSE).
  • Women 20-39 years of age should have a • CBE every one to three years, and perform a monthly breast self exam. If they have a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors, such as signs or symptons, they should speak to their healthcare provider about having a mammogram.

A regular mammogram is generally covered by most insurance providers. Please check with your carrier for your specific coverage. If you are unable to afford a mammogram and are uninsured, there are free programs available.

Ask one of the mammographers to provide you with a free shower card that illustrates how to perform a breast self exam or visit the site below:

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