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Breast Exams & Mammograms

Breast Exams

A clinical breast exam is a physical exam performed by your care provider as part of a well-woman exam or when you detect a lump or suspicious area in your breast. We will carefully feel and visually examine your breasts and underarm for any changes or abnormalities.

Mammography

Based on the results of the clinical breast exam, a mammogram may be recommended. A mammogram is specialized medical imaging that uses a low-dose X-ray system to see inside the breasts, aiding in the early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases. Mammography is also used as an annual screening test for breast cancer for women aged 40–75 years.

We recommend that you not schedule your mammogram for the week before your menstrual period if your breasts are usually tender during this time. The best time for a mammogram is one week following your period. Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts on the day of the exam. Always inform your doctor or radiologist if there is any possibility that you are pregnant.

During mammography, your breast will be placed on a special platform and gradually compressed with a clear plastic paddle. You must hold very still and may be asked to keep from breathing for a few seconds while the picture is taken. You will also be asked to change positions between images. You will feel pressure on your breast as it is squeezed by the compression paddle. Some women with sensitive breasts may experience discomfort. Always remember, compression allows for better quality mammograms.

The exam should take about 30 minutes.

If a suspicious area or lump is found on a screening mammogram, you will be called back for a follow-up test to find the exact cause of the problem. Follow-up testing may be a diagnostic mammogram, an ultrasound exam or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam.

If the results of follow-up tests are abnormal, you may have a biopsy. The type of biopsy you have depends on several factors, including the size and location of the lump or area.