Getting a yearly mammogram is a vital step in early detection.

It is a simple, relatively painless procedure that saves thousands of women’s lives every year.

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
  • Women 20-39 years of age should have a CBE every one to three years
  • All women over the age of 20 should perform a monthly breast self-exam
  • If you are under the age of 40 but have a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors speak to your healthcare provider about having a regular mammogram

What should I expect at my mammogram appointment?

Your exam will take around 30 minutes to complete. When you arrive, you will be asked to remove your top garments and replace them with a hospital gown. During your exam, one of our registered mammographers will position your breasts on the imaging tray 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 of each. Your registered mammographer or radiologist might also conduct a physical breast examination.

How should I prepare for my appointment?

  • 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 from the waist up for the exam
  • Try to schedule your appointment a week after your menstrual cycle ends, when your breasts are usually less tender

How much will it cost?

A regular mammogram is generally covered 100 percent by most insurance providers. Please check with your insurance carrier for specific coverage information. If you are unable to afford a mammogram and are uninsured, there are free programs available.

What happens after my mammogram?

After your mammogram is completed, the radiologist will study the images, compare them to any previous mammograms, if available, and send a report to your healthcare provider. Your results will be available from your provider within three to four days after your mammogram. Your physician will discuss the results with you. The mammographers are not allowed to release any results of your mammogram.

What is a computer-aided detection mammogram?

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. 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.

What are the benefits of digital mammography with CAD?

  • CAD images are immediately generated electronically on a computer 
  • Shorter exam times with no wait time for x-ray film to be developed
  • Improved technology decreases the need for repeat films
  • Decreased exposure time to the x-ray dose
  • Allows for better viewing of dense breast tissue

Lakeland Health offers early morning and Saturday appointment options in Niles, St. Joseph, or Watervliet. To schedule your screening mammogram call (800) 791-2810.

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