Coastal Women's Healthcare offers screening and diagnostic mammograms as well as breast ultrasounds. A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast that is used to detect malignancies that can't be felt during a physical examination. There are two types of mammograms - screening and diagnostic.
Screening mammograms are utilized to check for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease. These appointments are available during regular office hours. During a routine screening mammogram, two to three views will be taken of each breast. You will stand in front of the digital mammography unit and the mammographer will position your breast on the image receptor. The compression paddle will come down slowly on top of your breast, spreading out the tissue. This allows the technologist to obtain a clear picture of your breast using a low dose of radiation. You will only be compressed for a few seconds and the mammographer will work to ease any discomfort you may have. You may receive a phone call requesting additional images from your screening mammogram, it does not mean you have breast cancer. It only means that the radiologist would like further imaging to evaluate a specific area within your breast.
Diagnostic mammograms are utilized to check for breast cancer after a lump or other signs or symptoms of the disease have been found. A diagnostic mammogram can also be used to evaluate changes found during a screening mammogram. These appointments are generally scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays when a radiologist is present. This allows the radiologist to interpret the images at the time of the study and decide if further imaging may be necessary. Results of diagnostic studies done during these times are given same day. Although you can expect the same procedure as you would during a screening mammogram, diagnostic mammograms will require more specialized views to fully evaluate specific areas of the breasts.
The radiologists who interpret your images are members of Spectrum Medical Group. They will analyze the images and send a signed report to your referring physician and/or primary care physician. If a follow up mammogram is not necessary, a letter will be sent to you in the mail stating your recent mammogram examination was normal/benign and it is appropriate for you to return for your annual screening the following year.
When coming in for your mammogram appointment, it is helpful to wear a two piece outfit so you will only have to remove from the waist up. Do not wear any deodorant, lotion or powder on or under your breast and arms because it will show up on your mammogram and could result in the need for repeat images. It is recommended to schedule your exam on the days in your menstrual cycle when your breast are less tender, typically 1-2 weeks after the start of your menstrual period.