Mammography plays a vital role in early diagnosis. By
examining the digital images from your mammogram, your
doctor can see changes in your breast tissues up to two
years before either you or your doctor can feel them.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),
mammography can detect 85 to 90 percent of breast cancers in
women over 50. Current guidelines from the American Medical
Association (AMA) and the American College of Radiology (ACR)
recommend that beginning at age 40 women get annual
Mammography is a specific type of imaging that uses a
low-dose x-ray system. Thanks to a collaboration with
Bloomington Hospital and the Bloomington Hospital
Foundation, SIRA now offers high-contrast, high-resolution
digital imaging for examination of the breasts. Using
digital imaging allows your doctor to more easily compare,
manipulate and magnify the images for a better view. Digital
images of tissues near the skin and breastbone are much more
clear than film, and they provide much better scans for
women with dense breast tissues, using less radiation than
analog mammography. Digital technology also takes less of
your time: the images seldom need to be retaken, but if they
do, we can take care of it right away.
There are two types of mammograms. A diagnostic mammogram is
ordered to diagnose problems such as lumps, thickening,
inverted nipple, or discharge. A screening mammogram is a
"routine" exam. This is done when you have no known problems
with your breasts.
If you have not already scheduled a mammogram through your
primary care physician or OB/GYN, you can call SIRA at
812-333-7676 and select option 1. An assistant there will
take your call and walk you through the steps to get a
mammogram appointment. If you do not have a primary care
physician or OB/GYN to place the order for your mammogram,
you will be given the contact information for one of several
local physician referral sites including
Bloomington Hospitalís Physician Referral Service
Monroe/Owen County Physician Referral Service
Parenthood in Bloomington or Bedford
Volunteers in Medicine
Before scheduling your mammogram, discuss any new findings
or problems in your breasts with your doctor. Also, inform
your doctor of any prior surgeries, hormone use, and family
or personal history of breast cancer.
Do not schedule your mammogram for the week before your
period if your breasts are usually tender during this time.
The best time is one week after your period ends. Always
inform your doctor or x-ray technologist if there is any
possibility that you are pregnant.
Do not wear deodorant, powder, perfumes or lotion on the day
of the exam. These can appear on the x-ray film as calcium
Describe any breast symptoms or problems to the technologist
performing the exam.
If you have them, bring along copies of prior mammograms and
give them to the technologist when you arrive for your exam.
Before the examination, you will be asked to remove all
jewelry and clothing above the waist and you will be given a
gown that opens in the front.
A specially trained and certified female mammography
technologist will call you into the exam room. Because of
the radiation, no one else is permitted into the room with
you while the exam is done. The technologist will review
your history with you and make notes for the radiologist
concerning scars, moles, lumps, and comments you have
concerning your breasts.
During your mammogram, your technologist will position you
carefully. The tech will use the special paddles on the
machine to compress your breast. It is necessary that your
breast be compressed so that the breast tissue thickness is
evened out and spread as much as possible. If there is a
lesion in the underlying tissues, this compression will
enable your doctor to better see it. If you experience
significant discomfort, be sure to tell the technologist.
You will maintain this position for just a few seconds while
the technologist does the exam.
You will have to hold very still for a few seconds while the
unit works. Other than the momentary discomfort that you may
feel from the compression, you will not experience any pain.
The technologist will reposition you for a second view of
the same breast.
Your mammogram will consist of at least two different
positions for each breast, perhaps more if we have to to get
a good result.
If you are having a screening (routine) mammogram, the
technologist will review your images before you go to
determine whether the images are clear enough or whether
they need to be retaken. The radiologist will read your exam
after you leave and send a report to your doctor. Because
you leave before the radiologist sees your images, there is
a small chance that you may have to return for additional
pictures to be taken.
If you are having a diagnostic mammogram, the technologist
will process the images and a radiologist will review them
while you wait. Sometimes the radiologist may need
additional tests, such as ultrasound, to make a final report
for your doctor. The radiologist will talk with you before
you leave and give you your results.
One of our radiologists will analyze the images of your
breasts, dictate a report on any findings, and suggest a
diagnosis. A report will be sent to your referring
After reviewing the information from our radiologists, your
healthcare provider may schedule you to return to SIRA for
further testing or biopsies
Between 5 and 10 percent of mammogram results are abnormal
and require more testing (more mammograms, fine needle
aspiration, ultrasound, or biopsy), and most of the
follow-up tests confirm that no cancer was present. It is
estimated that a woman who has yearly mammograms between
ages 40 and 49 would have about a 30 percent chance of
having a falsely-positive mammogram at some point in that
decade, and about a 7 to 8 percent chance of having a breast
biopsy within the 10-year period. The estimate for
false-positive mammograms is about 25% for women ages 50 or
Mammography is an x-ray imaging process. The exposure to
radiation received from two digital mammographic views is
equivalent to less than six months of natural exposure
(including cosmic radiation from outer space, radiation from
the soil and buildings, and natural isotopes in our own
bodies). This amount is believed to be safe.
We take special care during any x-ray examination to assure
maximum safety for you by shielding you with a lead apron
where appropriate. Inform your doctor and your technologist
if there is any possibility that you are pregnant.
As explained in the first paragraph of this page,
mammography, like any other medical test, can sometimes miss
a problem. To more closely insure your good breast health,
it is important that you perform breast self-exams monthly
and visit your primary care physician for manual exams
annually. The combination of these safeguards is the best
advice medicine can give you.