Commonly asked questions about mammograms - East Idaho News

Commonly asked questions about mammograms

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Why is a yearly screening important?

There are two stages of breast cancer:

  1. DCIS (Ductal carcinoma in situ) cancer cells are present and confined to the duct of the breast. These account for 25% to 30% of breast cancer. DCIS left untreated often becomes invasive carcinoma.
  2. Invasive carcinoma occurs when malignant cells break through the membranes of the duct and invade the surrounding tissue.

Survivability of breast cancer is significantly increased when breast cancer is discovered at its earliest stage. This is accomplished by yearly mammography with careful comparison to prior year’s images. By looking at changes from year to year, small changes can be accurately detected.

When is it time to get a mammogram?

Radiologists at Eastern Idaho Women’s Imaging recommend the following guidelines from the American College of Radiology:

  • Begin screening mammograms at age 40. For women with an increased risk, begin screening at age 30 (women with certain BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations or who are untested but have first-degree relatives (mom, sister, or daughter) who are proved to have the BRCA mutations.
  • Receive a screening mammogram every single year.

How should I prepare for a mammogram?

  • Schedule the test for one week after your period, when your breasts are less tender.
  • Bring prior mammogram images from other clinics, so that the radiologist can compare the two.
  • On the morning of your test, don’t use deodorant, powder, lotions or perfume under your arms or on your breasts. You can wash normally with soap.
  • Wear a two-piece outfit with a blouse that you can remove easily.
  • Consider taking an over-the-counter pain medication (Tylenol, for example) about an hour before the exam. It might ease the mild discomfort that some women feel.

How long will the mammogram take?

A routine screening mammography examination consists of taking two radiographic images of each breast, typically with a total time of 7-10 minutes for each patient.

I’m embarrassed to expose my breasts. What should I do?

Tell your mammogram technologist about your discomfort. At Eastern Idaho Women’s Imaging, they are very used to helping women feel more comfortable during a mammogram. They respect and maintain your privacy and will walk you through the entire process.

The all-female staff at Eastern Idaho Women’s Imaging have advanced breast imaging certifications. They combine clinical knowledge with compassion and understanding.

Why can’t I just have a breast ultrasound instead of a mammogram?

The gold standard for breast cancer screening remains mammography. Mammography can show changes in breast tissue two years before it can be felt. This allows for early diagnoses and treatment, when breast cancer is most curable. Ultrasound cannot detect some of the very small changes that indicate early breast cancer. It is, however, an effective modality to be used in conjunction with mammography, when indicated.

Who can answer my questions about getting a mammogram?

Mammography technologists at Eastern Idaho Women’s Imaging are happy to answer any questions you have. Call (208) 227-2612.

You can set an appointment at