Mammography FAQs | Allen Hospital, Waterloo IA

Mammography FAQ's

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of the breast. It is used to detect breast cancer in the earliest stage when it is most treatable. A mammogram can find breast cancer tumors up to two years before they can be felt during a physical exam.

Why is early detection important?

It saves lives. Most mammograms results are negative (disease-free). Even if a lump is found, 8 out of 10 are NOT cancer. And when cancer is detected, the survival rate is near 100% for individuals whose tumors are detected and treated early, when they are less than 1 centimeter in size.

Who should get a mammogram?

All women should perform a self-exam every month. Between ages 29-40, you should also have a breast exam by a healthcare professional every 3 years. Beginning at age 40, the American Cancer Society recommends you get a mammogram and a medical breast exam every year. If you have a family history of breast cancer, please talk to your doctor about when and how often you should get a mammogram.

What happens during a mammogram?

A registered radiologic (x-ray) technologist specially trained in mammography and breast evaluation will do your exam. All mammograms at Allen Hospital or Allen Hospital's Imaging Center at United Medical Park are performed by female technologists. Your mammogram will take less than 15 minutes to complete. A mammogram involves positioning the breast on an imaging device, applying pressure (compression), and taking the x-ray. Although compression can be slightly uncomfortable, our digital technology makes the exam more comfortable for you.

Why is compression important?

Proper compression makes it easier to identify cancers that would not be seen otherwise. It is vital to get a clear x-ray picture of the entire breast. Compression also reduces the amount of radiation to your breast and the rest of your body.

Results

A radiologist, a physician who specializes in reading x-ray exams, will read your mammogram. Results will be sent to you and your doctor. In most cases, results will be available in 24 to 48 hours.