CMI is the region’s first entirely 3-D mammography center — a computer acquired xray of the breasts. 3-D (digital) mammography equipment looks and feels similar to the old technology, and compression is still important. However, this digital equipment allows for a quicker and therefore often more comfortable study. 3-D mammography allows for up to 50% lower radiation exposure, and requires fewer repeat films. These digital images can be manipulated to allow improved visualization of breast structures. A recent large study of over 40,000 women sponsored by the National Cancer Institute has shown that 3-D or digital mammography is significantly superior to traditional mammography in women with heterogeneous or dense breasts and in women who are premenopausal or perimenopausal. We perform mammography differently depending on whether the study is screening or diagnostic (see below).
The American College of Radiology recommends annual screening for women beginning at age 40. The goal of screening mammography is to detect breast cancer at an early stage, while it is still so small that it cannot be felt. Screening is for women without breast symptoms. If you have a breast symptom (such as a lump, new spontaneous nipple discharge, skin changes or persistent focal breast pain), it is essential that you tell the technologist so that the proper imaging will be done. Some breast masses, for instance, will not be shown on the routine screening views. Screening mammography should not be done on women with a new breast symptom, women with a history of breast cancer, women who have had surgery since their last mammogram, women with implants or women whose last mammogram was abnormal.
Screening is not diagnosis; screening is done to detect possible abnormalities. If a screening study appears abnormal, you will be called back for additional imaging (5-10% of women are called back at this facility). Of those called back for additional imaging, over 95% do not have cancer. Please note: call-backs can be dramatically reduced if old mammograms are available for comparison.
At the time of your screening mammogram, the technologist will check the images for quality. Screening mammography studies are the read by the radiologist(s) and also further evaluated by our Computer Aided Detection (CAD) system. A final report is usually available within 24 to 48 hours. The report may be delayed if we do not have previous mammograms for comparison. Both you and your doctor will receive a written report of the results. If you do not receive a report, please call (410) 571-0350 so that we may provide you with the results of your mammogram.
Diagnostic mammography is performed for women with a breast symptom (such as a lump, new spontaneous nipple discharge, skin changes or persistent focal breast pain), a history of breast cancer, a history of breast surgery since the last mammogram, breast implants, or if her last mammogram was interpreted as abnormal and recommended follow-up. This examination is checked and read by the radiologist before you leave the imaging department. Diagnostic mammography usually begins with the same routine views used for screening, but will often entail supplemental images and/or ultrasound.
It is important to prepare for your mammogram. Please bring your previous mammograms with you! This can avoid repeat films and suboptimal images. Also, the radiologist needs to see the previous films in order to read the current examination accurately. Your prior mammogram can be readily obtained by calling the place where you had your last mammogram and notifying them that you plan on picking up your films. Alternatively, you can arrange to have them sent to either your address or to CMI. Please do not wear deodorant, powder or cream, as this can cause artifacts on the mammogram. Try and schedule the study for the week after your menstrual period (your breasts will be less sensitive and tender). If breast compression is painful for you, you may take Tylenol, Motrin or another anti-inflammatory medication. Also, be sure to bring your insurance card and any referral forms that your insurance company may require.
Mammography is not 100% sensitive for detecting breast cancer. Approximately 10% of cancers are not visible on a mammogram. This is why monthly breast self exam by the woman herself and yearly exam by a trained health professional breast physical examination is essential.