What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast.

Mammograms can be used to check for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease. This type of mammogram is called a screening mammogram. Screening mammograms usually involve two or more x-ray pictures, or images, of each breast. The x-ray images often make it possible to detect tumors that cannot be felt. Screening mammograms can also find microcalcifications (tiny deposits of calcium ) that sometimes indicate the presence of breast cancer.

Mammograms can also be used to check for breast cancer after a lump or other sign or symptom of the disease has been found. This type of mammogram is called a diagnostic mammogram. Besides a lump, signs of breast cancer can include breast pain, thickening of the skin of the breast, nipple discharge , or a change in breast size or shape; however, these signs may also be signs of benign conditions. A diagnostic mammogram can also be used to evaluate changes found during a screening mammogram or to view breast tissue when it is difficult to obtain a screening mammogram because of special circumstances, such as the presence of breast implants .

How are screening and diagnostic mammograms different?

The same machines are used for both types of mammograms. However, diagnostic mammography takes longer to perform than screening mammography and the total dose of radiation is higher because more x-ray images are needed to obtain views of the breast from several angles. The technologist may magnify a suspicious area to produce a detailed picture that can help the doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

What are the benefits and potential harms of screening mammograms?

Early detection of breast cancer with screening mammography means that treatment can be started earlier in the course of the disease, possibly before it has spread. Randomized clinical trials and other studies show that screening mammography can help reduce deaths from breast cancer among women ages 40 to 74 years at average risk of breast cancer, with the evidence of benefit being strongest for women ages 50 to 69 years ( 1 , 2 ). However, no studies to date have shown a benefit from regular screening mammography in women under age 40 or from baseline screening mammograms (mammograms used for comparison) taken before age 40.

The benefits of screening mammography need to be balanced against its harms, which include:

False-positive results. False-positive results occur when radiologists see an abnormality (that is, a potential “positive”) on a mammogram but no cancer is actually present. All abnormal mammograms should be followed up with additional testing (diagnostic mammograms, ultrasound , and/or biopsy ) to determine whether cancer is present.

False-positive mammogram results can lead to anxiety and other forms of psychological distress in affected women. The additional testing required to rule out cancer can also be costly and time consuming and can cause physical discomfort.

False-positive results are more common for younger women, women with dense breasts, women who have had previous breast biopsies, women with a family history of breast cancer, and women who are taking estrogen (for example, menopausal hormone therapy ). The chance of having a false-positive result increases with the number of mammograms a woman has. More than 50% of women screened annually for 10 years in the United States will experience a false-positive result, and many of these women will have a biopsy.

Overdiagnosis and overtreatment. Screening mammograms can find cancers and cases of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS, a noninvasive tumor in which abnormal cells that may become cancerous build up in the lining of breast ducts) that need to be treated. However, they can also find cases of DCIS and small cancers that would never cause symptoms or threaten a woman’s life. This phenomenon is called "overdiagnosis." Treatment of overdiagnosed cancers and overdiagnosed cases of DCIS is not needed and results in "overtreatment."

Because doctors cannot easily distinguish cancers and cases of DCIS that need to be treated from those that do not, they are all treated.

False-negative results. In cancer screening, a negative result means no abnormality is present. False-negative results occur when mammograms appear normal even though breast cancer is present. Overall, screening mammograms miss about 20% of breast cancers that are present at the time of screening. False-negative results can lead to delays in treatment and a false sense of security for affected women.

One cause of false-negative results is high breast density . Breasts contain both dense tissue (i.e., glandular tissue and connective tissue , together known as fibroglandular tissue) and fatty tissue. Fatty tissue appears dark on a mammogram, whereas fibroglandular tissue appears as white areas. Because fibroglandular tissue and tumors have similar density, tumors can be harder to detect in women with denser breasts.

False-negative results occur more often among younger women than among older women because younger women are more likely to have dense breasts. As a woman ages, her breasts usually become more fatty, and false-negative results become less likely.

Some breast cancers grow so quickly that they appear within months of a normal (negative) screening mammogram. This situation does not represent a false-negative result, because the negative result of the screening was correct. But it means that a negative result can give a false sense of security. Some of the cancers missed by screening mammograms can be detected by clinical breast exams (physical exams of the breast done by a health care provider).

Finding breast cancer early may not reduce a woman’s chance of dying from the disease. Even though mammograms can detect malignant tumors that cannot be felt, treating a small tumor does not always mean that the woman will not die from the cancer. A fast-growing or aggressive cancer may have already spread to other parts of the body before it is detected. Instead, women with such tumors live a longer period of time knowing that they likely have a potentially fatal disease.

In addition, finding breast cancer early may not help prolong the life of a woman who is suffering from other, more life-threatening health conditions.

Radiation exposure. Mammograms require very small doses of radiation. The risk of harm from this radiation exposure is low, but repeated x-rays have the potential to cause cancer. Although the potential benefits of mammography nearly always outweigh the potential harm from the radiation exposure, women should talk with their health care providers about the need for each x-ray. In addition, they should always let their health care provider and the x-ray technologist know if there is any possibility that they are pregnant, because radiation can harm a growing fetus.

Where can I find current recommendations for screening mammography?

Many organizations and professional societies, including the United States Preventive Services Task Force (which is convened by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a federal agency), have developed guidelines for mammography screening. All recommend that women talk with their doctor about the benefits and harms of mammography, when to start screening, and how often to be screened.

Although NCI does not issue guidelines for cancer screening, it conducts and facilitates basic, clinical, and translational research that informs standard clinical practice and medical decision making  that other organizations may use to develop guidelines.

What is the best method of screening for breast cancer?

Regular high-quality screening mammograms and  clinical breast exams are the most sensitive ways to screen for breast cancer.

Regular breast self-exam, or BSE—that is, checking one’s own breasts for lumps or other unusual changes—is not specifically recommended for breast cancer screening. In clinical trials, BSE alone was not found to help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer.

However, many women choose to examine their own breasts. Women who do so should remember that breast changes can occur because of pregnancy, aging, or menopause ; during menstrual cycles; or when taking birth control pills or other hormones. It is normal for breasts to feel a little lumpy and uneven. Also, it is common for breasts to be swollen and tender right before or during a menstrual period. Whenever a woman notices any unusual changes in her breasts, she should contact her health care provider.

What is the Breast Imaging Reporting and Database System (BI-RADS®)?

The American College of Radiology (ACR) has established a uniform way for radiologists to describe mammogram findings. The system, called BI-RADS, includes seven standardized categories, or levels. Each BI-RADS category has a follow-up plan associated with it to help radiologists and other physicians appropriately manage a patient’s care.

Breast Imaging Reporting and Database System (BI-RADS)

BI-RADS also includes four categories of breast density that may be reported. The radiologist who reads the mammogram chooses the category that best describes the level of breast density seen on the mammogram film. The categories, from the least amount of breast density to the highest, are as follows:

  • The breasts are almost entirely fatty
  • There are scattered areas of dense glandular tissue and fibrous connective tissue (together known as fibroglandular density)
  • The breasts are heterogeneously dense, which means they have more of these areas of fibroglandular density. This may make it hard to see small masses in the breast tissue on a mammogram.
  • The breasts are extremely dense, which makes it hard to see tumors in the breast tissue on a mammogram.

Many states in the U.S. have enacted laws requiring mammography providers to tell women if they have dense breasts (i.e., breasts that are heterogeneously or extremely dense on a mammogram) and to inform them of risks associated with having dense breasts. In addition to making mammograms harder to read, dense breasts are a risk factor for breast cancer.

Where can women get high-quality mammograms?

Women can get high-quality mammograms in breast clinics, hospital radiology departments, mobile vans, private radiology offices, and doctors’ offices.

The Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) is a federal law that requires mammography facilities across the nation to meet uniform quality standards. Under the law, all mammography facilities must: 1) be accredited by an FDA-approved accreditation body; 2) be certified by the FDA, or an agency of a state that has been approved by the FDA, as meeting the standards; 3) undergo an annual MQSA inspection; and 4) prominently display the certificate issued by the agency. More information about MQSA is available from the FDA .

Women can ask their doctors or staff at a local mammography facility about FDA certification before making an appointment. Women should look for the MQSA certificate at the mammography facility and check its expiration date. MQSA regulations also require that mammography facilities give patients an easy-to-read report of their mammogram results.

Information about local FDA-certified mammography facilities is available through NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1–800–4–CANCER (1–800–422–6237). Also, a searchable list of these facilities can be found on the FDA website.

How much does a mammogram cost?

Insurance plans governed by the federal Affordable Care Act must cover screening mammography as a preventive benefit every 1–2 years for women age 40 and over without requiring copayments, coinsurance, or deductibles. In addition, many states require that Medicaid and public employee health plans cover screening mammography. Women should contact their mammography facility or health insurance company for confirmation of the cost and coverage.

Medicare pays for annual screening mammograms for all female Medicare beneficiaries who are age 40 or older. Medicare will also pay for one baseline mammogram for female beneficiaries between the ages of 35 and 39. There is no deductible requirement for this benefit. Information about coverage of mammograms is available on the Medicare website or through the Medicare Hotline at 1–800–MEDICARE (1–800–633–4227). For the hearing impaired, the telephone number is 1–877–486–2048.

Women who need a diagnostic mammogram should check with their health insurance provider about coverage.

How can uninsured or low-income women obtain a free or low-cost screening mammogram?

Some state and local health programs and employers provide mammograms free or at low cost. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) coordinates the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. This program provides screening services, including clinical breast exams and mammograms, to low-income, uninsured women throughout the United States and in several U.S. territories. Contact information for local programs is available on the CDC website or by calling 1–800–CDC–INFO (1–800–232–4636).

Information about free or low-cost mammography screening programs is also available from NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1–800–4–CANCER (1–800–422–6237) and from local hospitals, health departments, women’s centers, or other community groups.

What should women with breast implants do about screening mammograms?

Women with breast implants should continue to have mammograms. (A woman who had an implant following a mastectomy should ask her doctor whether a mammogram of the reconstructed breast is necessary.)

Implants can hide some breast tissue, making it more difficult for the radiologist to detect an abnormality on the mammogram. It is important to let the mammography facility know about breast implants when scheduling a mammogram. The technologist and radiologist must be experienced in performing mammography on women who have breast implants. 

If the technologist performing the procedure is aware that a woman has breast implants, steps can be taken to make sure that as much breast tissue as possible can be seen on the mammogram. A special technique called implant displacement views may be used.

What is digital mammography? How is it different from conventional (film) mammography?

In the United States, digital mammography has replaced conventional mammography. Digital and conventional mammography both use x-rays to produce an image of the breast; however, in conventional mammography, the image is stored directly on film, whereas, in digital mammography, an electronic image of the breast is stored as a computer file. This digital information can be enhanced, magnified, or manipulated for further evaluation more easily than information stored on film. Digital images can also be shared electronically, making virtual (remote) consultations between radiologists and breast surgeons easier.

Digital mammography can be done only in facilities that are certified to practice conventional mammography and have received FDA approval to offer digital mammography. The procedure for having a mammogram with a digital system is the same as with conventional mammography.

What is 3-D mammography (also known as tomosynthesis mammography)?

Three-dimensional (3-D) mammography, also known as digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT), is a type of digital mammography in which x-ray machines are used to take pictures of thin "slices" of the breast from different angles and computer software is used to reconstruct an image. This process is similar to how a computed tomography ( CT ) scanner produces images of structures inside of the body. 3-D mammography uses very low dose x-rays, but, because it is generally performed at the same time as standard two-dimensional (2-D) digital mammography, the radiation dose is higher than that of standard mammography. Newer tomosynthesis strategies allow DBT to be done alone, potentially reducing the radiation dose to a level closer to that of standard mammography.

Although many women are offered DBT, it has not yet been determined conclusively whether it is superior to 2-D mammography at identifying early cancers and avoiding false-positive results.

A large-scale randomized breast screening trial is comparing 3-D mammography with 2-D mammography. The Tomosynthesis Mammography Imaging Screening Trial (TMIST)  is comparing the number of advanced cancers detected in women screened for 4 years with DBT with that detected in women screened with standard digital mammography. 

What other technologies or strategies are being developed for breast cancer screening?

NCI is supporting the development of several new technologies to detect breast tumors. This research ranges from methods being developed in research labs to those that are being studied in clinical trials . Efforts to improve conventional mammography include digital mammography , magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) scanning, and diffuse optical tomography, which uses light instead of x-rays to create pictures of the breast.

The Women Informed to Screen Depending on Measures of Risk ( WISDOM ) study is a randomized trial that is testing a personalized approach to breast cancer screening. This 5-year study, which will involve about 100,000 women in California and the Midwest, aims to determine if risk-based screening—that is, screening at intervals that are based on each woman’s risk as determined by her genetic makeup, family history, and other risk factors—is as safe, effective, and accepted as annual screening.

What Is a Mammogram?

Photo of a woman getting a mammogram

Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early.

A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. Doctors use a mammogram to look for early signs of breast cancer. Regular mammograms can find breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before it can be felt.

How is a mammogram done?

You will stand in front of a special X-ray machine. A technologist will place your breast on a plastic plate. Another plate will firmly press your breast from above. The plates will flatten the breast, holding it still while the X-ray is being taken. You will feel some pressure. The steps are repeated to make a side view of the breast. The other breast will be X-rayed in the same way. You will then wait while the technologist checks the X-rays to make sure the pictures do not need to be redone. Keep in mind that the technologist cannot tell you the results of your mammogram. Each woman’s mammogram may look a little different because all breasts are a little different.

What does having a mammogram feel like?

Having a mammogram is uncomfortable for most women. Some women find it painful. A mammogram takes only a few moments, though, and the discomfort is over soon. What you feel depends on the skill of the technologist, the size of your breasts, and how much they need to be pressed. Your breasts may be more sensitive if you are about to get or have your period. A doctor with special training, called a radiologist, will look at the X-ray for early signs of breast cancer or other problems.

  • Try not to have your mammogram the week before you get your period or during your period. Your breasts may be tender or swollen then.
  • On the day of your mammogram, don’t wear deodorant, perfume, or powder. These products can show up as white spots on the X-ray.
  • Some women prefer to wear a top with a skirt or pants, instead of a dress. You will need to undress from your waist up for the mammogram.

When will I get the results of my mammogram?

You will usually get the results within a few weeks, although it depends on the facility. A radiologist reads your mammogram and then reports the results to you and your doctor. If there is a concern, you will hear from the mammography facility earlier. Contact your health care provider or the mammography facility if you do not receive a report of your results within 30 days.

What happens if my mammogram is normal?

Continue to get mammograms according to recommended time intervals. Mammograms work best when they can be compared with previous ones. This allows the radiologist to compare them to look for changes in your breasts.

Digital mammogram

An example of a normal mammogram. Each woman’s mammogram may look a little different because all breasts are a little different.

What happens if my mammogram is abnormal?

An abnormal mammogram does not always mean that there is cancer. But you will need to have additional mammograms, tests, or exams before the doctor can tell for sure. You may also be referred to a breast specialist or a surgeon. It does not necessarily mean you have cancer or need surgery. These doctors are experts in diagnosing breast problems. Doctors will do follow-up tests to diagnose breast cancer or to find that there is no cancer.

Where can I get a mammogram and who can I talk to if I have questions?

  • If you have a regular doctor, talk to him or her.
  • Contact the National Cancer Institute.
  • For Medicare information, you can call 1-800 MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
  • CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program works with health departments and other groups to provide low-cost or free mammograms to women who qualify. Find out if you qualify.

Find a mammography facility in your state or territory

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A mammogram is an X-ray that checks for cancer in breast tissue. The technique used to do these X-rays is called mammography. The images may show a small tumor that cannot be felt during an examination or other breast changes.

What are the different types of mammograms?

A mammogram can be done as a routine check-up test or to find the cause of symptoms you are experiencing.

Screening mammogram. This type of mammogram is a routine test. You may have it every year, every other year, or at different times depending on what your doctor recommends.

Screening mammograms check for breast cancer in people who do not have symptoms. The goal is to catch any cancer early, when it is usually easier to treat. Health organizations have different guidelines for how often people need screening mammograms. Learn about current breast cancer screening guidelines and how to make sense of screening recommendations .

Diagnostic mammogram. This type of mammogram is done to learn more about a specific symptom or answer a question. You may need a diagnostic mammogram if:

Your screening mammogram shows changes that the doctor wants to know more about

You feel a lump in your breast or chest

You have other symptoms

A diagnostic mammogram usually takes more pictures of the breast than a screening mammogram.

Who does my mammogram?

A health care team member called a mammographer does the test. They have special training in mammogram technology and in working with you to get the best possible images.

A doctor called a radiologist looks at the images from your mammogram and interprets what they show. You usually receive a written report or letter with your results.

How can I prepare for a mammogram?

When you schedule your mammogram, the hospital or office staff will tell you how to prepare. Here are some things to keep in mind.

When to schedule your mammogram. Consider scheduling the test during the 2 weeks after your period ends. Your breasts will be the least tender at this time of month. If you are concerned about pain during the mammogram, you can take an over-the-counter pain medication on the test day.

What your health care team needs to know before your mammogram. Make sure to tell your health care team about any symptoms you are experiencing in your breast or chest. You should also tell them if:

You are pregnant or breastfeeding. While it is generally considered safe to get a mammogram during pregnancy, pregnancy and breastfeeding can make it more difficult for a radiologist to read a mammogram. Depending on the reason for your mammogram, your health care team may recommend postponing this test.

You have just received a COVID-19 vaccine. Temporary swelling in the arm that got the shot may mean it is better to postpone this test for a few weeks.

You have breast implants, previous surgery to your breasts or chest, and any areas of concern. They may ask you about this information the day of the scan.

All of this information will help the mammographer do the best mammogram possible. It also helps the radiologist who is looking at your mammogram and interpreting the pictures. For example, if you had breast surgery in the past, the mammographer may tape small markers to your skin in that area. This shows the radiologist where the cancer or other problem was.

If you have had a mammogram at another facility before, ask the mammographer if they have access to your records. The radiologist can compare your new images with the older ones.

Insurance and cost. In the United States, the Affordable Care Act requires private insurance companies to pay for regular screening mammograms. Starting at age 40, you can be screened for free every 1 to 2 years. Medicare also pays for a screening mammogram every year, starting at age 40. 3D mammograms (also known as tomosynthesis) are not always paid for, so you should call you insurance company to find out if this type of screening mammogram is covered before having the test.

Diagnostic mammograms are usually covered by your insurance provider. But you should call before the test and talk with them to avoid having any unexpected costs.

What to eat. You can usually eat or drink normally before the test. You may want to avoid caffeine before your mammogram. Caffeine can make your breasts more tender. If you are worried about pain or discomfort during the mammogram, you can take an over-the-counter pain medication 1 hour before your appointment.

What to wear. You will need to remove your clothing from the waist up during your mammogram. You may want to wear a top and bra that are easy to remove. During the exam, you will wear a hospital gown that can open in the front. You may want to leave necklaces at home since you will need to remove neck jewelry before the test. Ask your provider about other types of jewelry if you have questions.

There are some things you should avoid putting on your body before a mammogram:

Antiperspirant

Body powder

Perfume, body spray, or cologne

Makeup applied below the neck

These products leave deposits on your skin. This can create spots on the X-ray images, making them more difficult to read. They can cause problems even if the product was not applied directly to your breast.

If you have any questions about how to prepare for your mammogram, ask your health care team. They will let you know if there is anything you need to do before the test or bring with you to your appointment.

What happens during a mammogram?

The actual mammogram takes 10 to 15 minutes, but your appointment can take up to an hour. This includes changing clothes, having the examination, and your mammographer making sure the images are clear enough for the radiologist to look at.

During the mammogram, you will stand in front of the mammography machine. This is a tall machine with two flat plates and a tube on top. The mammographer will adjust the machine to your height and then rest your breast on the bottom plate. The top plate, called the compression plate, will lower onto your breast. The mammographer may ask you to take a deep breath before doing this.

When the breast is flattened between the plates, the machine will take the X-rays from the tube above the breast. This is uncomfortable, but does not last long. Some people do experience pain during a mammogram, but if you feel severe pain or if your skin is pinched, tell the mammographer.

For a screening mammogram, you will need several pictures of each breast. A diagnostic mammogram may need more. The mammographer might have you change positions a few times. After you are done, they make sure the pictures are clear. They may retake any pictures that are not clear. When the mammogram is finished, you can go back to your usual activities right away.

Today, most breast imaging centers use digital technology instead of film. The pictures are easier to store and share, and they can be ready sooner. The images are also sharper, which can make it easier to see small changes.

Even with digital mammograms, you will not get your test results right away. This is because the radiologist needs to read the results carefully. You should receive the results of a screening mammogram within 2 to 4 weeks. Diagnostic mammogram results are usually given sooner. Ask the mammographer when you can expect your results.

Why does my breast need to be flat during a mammogram?

The type of X-ray used in a mammogram is less powerful than other kinds of X-rays. To make it easier to see abnormalities, the breast tissue is flattened out. It also keeps the breast tissue from moving around, which would produce a blurry picture.

Should I get a 3-D mammogram?

Many breast imaging centers offer 3-dimensional (3-D) mammograms. This is also called breast tomosynthesis.

During a 3-D mammogram, the breast is positioned and flattened in the same way. But 3-D imaging takes a few seconds longer. The X-ray tube moves in an arc, taking pictures from many angles. A computer creates images that show multiple sections of the breast.

Some studies show that 3-D imaging means less need to come back for another mammogram if changes are found.

Each type of mammography has benefits and risks. Ask your health care team which type is right for you.

Why did I get called back for another mammogram?

Sometimes, your doctor may need you to come back to get additional pictures of your breast. While you may be worried when you get this call, it may help to know that it is common. The most common reasons for getting a call back for another mammogram are either dense breast tissue that makes it difficult to see any problems in the breast or an area of concern. Most of the time, an area of concern on a mammogram is not cancer.

What happens if my mammogram result is abnormal?

If the radiologist is concerned your mammogram results show a growth that could be cancer, the next step is additional testing. These tests will find out if the growth is benign or cancerous. A benign tumor means that the tumor can grow but it will not spread. A cancerous tumor is malignant, meaning it can grow and spread to other parts of the body.

Your doctor may decide to do additional imaging tests, like an ultrasound or a breast MRI . But the only way to confirm a breast cancer diagnosis is through a biopsy. There are several different kinds of biopsies used to diagnose breast cancer. Learn more about the tests used in making a diagnosis of breast cancer .

Questions to ask your health care team

Before having your mammogram, consider asking:

Why are you recommending this test for me?

Where will my mammogram be done?

Who will do the mammogram?

Can I choose a female mammographer if I am more comfortable with that?

Does the center do a lot of mammograms?

What are the possible risks of a mammogram?

How accurate are mammograms at finding cancer?

When will I get the results, and how?

Who will explain the results to me?

What other tests will I need if the mammogram is not clear or shows signs of cancer?

Related Resources

Guide to Breast Cancer

Cancer Screening

Mammograms and Older Women: Is It Ever Safe to Stop?

More Information

MedlinePlus: Mammography

National Cancer Institute: Mammograms

RadiologyInfo: Mammography

Navigating Cancer Care

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What to expect at your first mammogram.

Oct 18, 2018 Katie Rosenblum

women, mammogram, cedars-sinai, mammogram technician, radiologist

Getting ready for your first mammogram can be a little scary. You might be imagining a machine flattening your breasts like a pancake—and let's face it, that's not a fun visual.

"Everybody knows somebody who's had a mammogram, and there are always horror stories," says Jenny Ton, mammography technologist at Cedars-Sinai . "All you've heard are bad things."

But the truth is,  mammograms  save lives and are something that should be done annually starting at age 40. The good news is that with a little bit of preparation, the exam can be a lot less stressful.

"Mammography is an early-detection tool, if we do find something, it's usually in the early stages and helps give patients the best outcomes."

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is a low-dose imaging system used to examine breast tissue. It can help doctors detect abnormalities, like lumps that are too small to be felt, and research has shown that annual mammograms can help detect cancer earlier—when it is most treatable.

"Mammography is an early-detection tool," says Jenny. "If we do find something, it's usually in the early stages and helps give patients the best outcomes."

Read: What’s My Breast Cancer Risk?

What to expect during your mammogram?

When you arrive, you will undress from the waist up and will be given a gown to wear. It's important that you do not wear deodorant, lotions, oils, or perfumes on the day of your exam, as these will interfere with the machine.

During the mammogram, you and a trained technician will be the only ones in the exam room. The tech will position your breasts one at a time in between 2 plastic imaging plates, which will apply pressure while taking the X-ray images. Multiple images will be taken from different positions.

"It can be uncomfortable, but we need to apply the pressure to spread out the tissue so that we get a clearer image of the breast tissue," says Jenny. "The more pressure that is applied, the less radiation will be needed to get an optimal image."

Jenny says this is the most important part, but it's also the part patients dread the most.

"The reaction is usually to tense up, but if you're anticipating pain, you will tense up and your muscle will be fighting the machine," she says. "The more relaxed you are, the easier it is to tolerate."

The entire exam will only take about 10 minutes.

Read: Demystifying Mammograms

"When we're done, patients usually tell me it wasn't nearly as bad as they had been imagining," Jenny says.

If your doctor ordered a diagnostic mammogram due to a change in symptoms, a radiologist will review your scans while you are there. Additional imaging, like an ultrasound, may be requested.

If your doctor ordered a screening mammogram or you needed further imaging, a radiologist will read your scans and send a report to your physician, usually within 48 hours.

It's important to remember that it's not uncommon to get results that indicate suspicious findings. Often, these results are benign and could be caused by dense breast tissue or cysts.

While the thought of getting your first mammogram might seem daunting, it's important to make it a regular part of your preventive healthcare routine.

Ready to schedule your mammogram? Call the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center at 310-423-8000 for appointments.

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Get Tested for Breast Cancer

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Breast cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer in women. About 1 in 8 women in the United States will get breast cancer during her lifetime. 

The good news is that mammograms can help find breast cancer early — before it spreads to other parts of the body. Most women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early.

How often should I get mammograms?

  • If you’re age 40 to 49, talk with your doctor about when to start getting mammograms and how often to get them
  • If you’re age 50 to 74, get mammograms every 2 years

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast. Mammograms use a very low level of x-rays, which are a type of radiation. The risk of harm from this radiation is very low.

Mammograms can be used to screen (test) for breast cancer in women with no signs or symptoms. They can also help doctors figure out if cancer is causing a particular symptom — like a lump or another change in the breast.

When you get a mammogram, a technician will place your breast on a platform and a plastic plate will press it flat to get a clear picture. This part of a mammogram can be uncomfortable, but it usually only lasts 15 to 20 seconds.

It takes about 20 minutes total to get mammograms.  Learn more about mammograms . 

Breast Cancer

What is breast cancer.

Breast cancer is cancer that forms in breast tissue. Like all cancers, breast cancer can spread to other parts of the body.

Talk with your doctor or nurse if you notice any of these changes:

  • A lump or an area that feels very firm in the breast or armpit
  • A change in the size, shape, or feel of the breast
  • Fluid (called discharge) coming out of a nipple
  • Skin on the breast that is itchy, red, flaky, or dimpled

Learn more about breast cancer .

What if the doctor finds something in my breast?

Mammograms let the doctor or nurse look for lumps or other changes inside your breasts that you can’t feel from the outside. If your doctor finds a lump or another change in your breast tissue, you may need other tests to find out if it’s cancer or not.

The doctor or nurse may take a small bit of tissue from the breast for testing. This procedure is called a biopsy.

See Your Doctor

Talk with your doctor about when and how often to get mammograms.

Ask the doctor about your risk for breast cancer.  

Use these questions to start a conversation with your doctor about mammograms . You can also ask about ways you may be able to lower your risk for breast cancer.

Tell your doctor if breast or ovarian cancer runs in your family — that may increase your risk for developing these and other types of cancer. You can use these questions to talk with your doctor about genetic testing for breast or ovarian cancer . 

Together, you and your doctor can decide what’s best for you.

Cost and Insurance

What about cost.

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans must cover mammograms for women over age 40. Depending on your insurance plan, you may be able to get mammograms at no cost to you. Check with your insurance company to find out more.

Medicare also covers mammograms for women over age 40 at no cost. Find out about Medicare coverage for mammograms .

If you don’t have insurance, you can still get mammograms. Find a program near you that offers free or low-cost mammograms .

To learn more, check out these resources:

  • Free preventive care for women covered by the Affordable Care Act
  • How the Affordable Care Act protects you   
  • Understanding your health insurance and how to use it [PDF - 698 KB]

Healthy Habits

Get support..

Use these tips to get support when you get mammograms.

  • Ask other women who have had mammograms about what to expect
  • Ask a family member or friend to go with you when you get mammograms

Make sure to ask when you’ll get your mammogram results. When you get the results, ask the doctor or nurse to explain what the results mean.  Learn more about mammogram results .

Get active.

Being active increases your chances of living longer. Physical activity helps prevent several types of cancer, including breast cancer.  Learn more about how to get active . 

Get your well-woman visit.

Get a well-woman visit every year. Use this visit to talk with your doctor or nurse about important screenings and services to help you stay healthy. Learn more about well-woman visits .

Content last updated July 15, 2022

Reviewer Information

This information on breast cancer was adapted from materials from the National Cancer Institute and the Office on Women’s Health.

Reviewed by: Rebecca Chasan, Ph.D. Chief, Science Writing and Review Branch Office of Communications and Public Liaison National Cancer Institute National Institutes of Health

August 2021

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Breast Cancer Screening for Women at Average Risk

Mammography is the most effective screening tool used today to find breast cancer in most women. However, the benefits of mammography vary by age.

Learn about mammography for women ages: 

  • 70 and older

Figure 3.1 (below) shows the breast cancer screening recommendations for women at average risk from some major health organizations [ 8-9,11 ].

Learn about screening recommendations for women at higher risk of breast cancer .

Figure 3.1: Breast cancer screening recommendations for women at average risk

Find questions to ask your health care provider about screening mammography .

Figure 3.1 shows breast cancer screening recommendations for women at average risk.

Benefits of screening mammography for women ages 40-49

Screening mammography in women ages 40-49 may lower the risk of dying from breast cancer, though the benefit is less than for older women [ 16,34 ].

Komen believes all women should have access to regular screening mammograms when they and their health care providers decide it’s best based on their risk of breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society states women should have the option to have a mammogram every year, starting at age 40 [ 8 ]. It recommends routine screening mammography starting at age 45 [ 8 ].

Risks of screening mammography for women ages 40-49

Overdiagnosis and overtreatment are risks of screening mammography. Over-diagnosis and over-treatment occur when a mammogram finds a cancer that never would have caused symptoms or problems if it had never been diagnosed and had been left untreated.

Another drawback of mammography in women ages 40-49 is a high rate of false positive results (when a screening test shows an abnormal finding that may be cancer when in fact, cancer isn’t present) [ 34-35 ]. Younger women are more likely than older women to have a false positive result on a mammogram [ 35 ].

Getting a false positive result means women will be told they have an abnormal finding and undergo follow-up tests. These tests may include a diagnostic mammogram , breast ultrasound or even a biopsy .

Learn more about follow-up of an abnormal mammogram .

Why are there different screening recommendations for women ages 40-49?

Screening mammography in women ages 40-49 may lower the risk of dying from breast cancer, though the benefit is less than for older women [ 16,34 ]. Some major health organizations have concluded the modest potential benefits of screening mammography for women in their 40s may not outweigh the risks of over-diagnosis, over-treatment and false positive results [ 11,35 ].

Komen believes all women should have access to regular screening mammograms when they and their health care providers decide it’s best based on their risk of breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society states women ages 40-44 should have the option to have a mammogram every year [ 8 ]. It recommends routine screening mammography starting at age 45 [ 8 ].

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recommends routine screening mammography for women starting at age 40 [ 9 ].

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American College of Physicians recommend women 40-49 talk with their health care providers about their risk of breast cancer and the pros and cons of screening mammography. Then, together, they should make informed decisions about when to start getting mammograms and how often to get screened [ 11,35 ].

Informed decisions are guided by a woman’s breast cancer risk profile. Women at higher risk of breast cancer are more likely to benefit from routine screening mammography than other women [ 8-9,11,35 ].

Decisions should also be guided by a woman’s preferences based on the potential benefits and risks of mammography [ 8-9,11,35 ].

Talk with your health care provider about when to start getting mammograms.

Learn more about weighing the benefits and risks of screening mammography , including information on over-diagnosis and over-treatment.

Benefits of screening mammography for women ages 50-69

For women ages 50-69, the benefits of screening mammography are clear. Mammography lowers a woman’s risk of dying from breast cancer. It’s recommended women ages 50-69 have mammograms on a regular basis.

Individual study findings on the benefits of screening mammography vary.

A meta-analysis that combined the results from 6 randomized controlled trials found [ 34 ]:

  • Women ages 50-59 who got mammograms on a regular basis had a 14 percent lower risk of dying from breast cancer than women who didn’t get mammograms.
  • Women ages 60-69 who got mammograms on a regular basis had a 33 percent lower risk of dying from breast cancer than women who didn’t get mammograms.

How often should women ages 50-69 get mammograms?

The American Cancer Society recommends screening mammography every year for women ages 50-54 and every 1-2 years for women ages 55 and older [ 8 ].

The NCCN recommends screening mammography every year for women ages 50-69 [ 9 ].

The American Cancer Society recommends mammography every year for women ages 50-54 and every 1-2 years for women ages 55 and older [ 4 ].

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening mammography every 2 years for women 50-69 [ 11 ]. The Task Force reviewed the scientific evidence and concluded mammography every 2 years gives almost as much benefit as mammography every year while reducing risks [ 34 ]. These risks include false positive results , overdiagnosis and overtreatment .

If you’re 50-69, talk with your health care provider about how often to get a mammogram.

Figure 3.1 shows breast cancer screening recommendations for women at average risk.

There are few studies (and no randomized controlled trials) on the benefits of screening mammography in women ages 70 and older.

Breast cancer risk increases with age, and mammography doesn’t appear to be less effective in women 70 and older. However, there are risks of mammography in older women, including over-diagnosis and over-treatment.

Many major health organizations, including the American Cancer Society, recommend women ages 70 and older continue to get mammograms on a regular basis as long as they are in good health [ 8-9,35-36 ].

Komen believes all women should have access to regular screening mammograms as long as they and their health care providers decide it’s best based on their risk of breast cancer.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends mammography every 2 years for women ages 70-74 [ 11 ]. For women ages 75 and older, the Task Force feels there’s not enough scientific evidence to recommend for or against routine mammography [ 11 ].

Some women may stop routine breast cancer screening due to poor health. Women who have one or more serious health problems may not benefit enough from having breast cancer found early to justify screening.

However, women who are in good health and could benefit from treatment (if breast cancer were found) should continue to get mammograms.

If you aren’t sure whether you should continue getting mammograms, talk with your health care provider.

Although screening mammography saves lives, it has some risks. The benefits and risks of mammography vary by age.

Learn about the benefits and risks of screening mammography . 

Updated 11/30/22

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13 Reasons for a Mammogram Callback

  • What to Expect
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  • Managing Anxiety

Frequently Asked Questions

It's normal and expected to feel anxious about a mammogram , especially when waiting for results. Breast cancer is a leading cause of premature mortality among U.S. women, so most think getting a callback means they have cancer.

Rest assured, a follow-up exam or test does not mean you have breast cancer. Fewer than 1 in 10 people called back after an abnormal mammogram have breast cancer.

This article discusses many reasons for a fast or same-day mammogram callback and helpful tips to manage your nerves.

choja / Getty Images

What to Expect If You Get a Mammogram Callback

A second mammogram, known as a recall, is a diagnostic mammogram almost identical to the first screening . The only difference is that the radiologist will take pictures of a specific area they found unusual on your initial mammogram.

Your healthcare provider may also suggest a breast ultrasound (or sonogram ). This common noninvasive diagnostic test uses high-frequency sound waves to create digital images of tissue, glands, organs, and other internal structures. Sonograms can distinguish between solid masses and breast cysts.

If you have a family history of breast cancer or other factors that put you at high risk for breast cancer, a breast MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may also be ordered, which helps detect tumors that mammograms may miss.

Reasons for a Mammogram Callback

Simply put, a callback means your radiologist needs to get a clearer image of your breast tissue to be sure you're cancer-free. To help ease any anxiety, familiarize yourself with some of the reasons you may have to get a second mammogram.

Inconclusive Results

Radiologists are looking for specific abnormalities when reviewing your initial mammogram results. You will be called back for additional imaging if anything looks similar to the following:

  • Calcifications (common calcium deposits in breast tissue)
  • Cysts (benign, noncancerous fluid-filled sacs)
  • Dense breast tissue (when breasts have less fat and more glandular and fibrous tissue)
  • Asymmetry (an area of the breast that looks different from the rest)
  • Skin thickening
  • Retraction (areas of skin or nipple pulling inward)
  • Focal distortion (something is pressing on tissue)

Having any one of these abnormalities doesn't necessarily mean you have cancer. A radiologist is simply tracking and identifying changes in your breast tissue.

First Mammogram

If this is your first mammogram, don't be surprised if you're called back for additional imaging. Even without abnormalities, your healthcare provider may want a clearer understanding of your normal tissue because they have nothing to compare it with. A callback on your first mammogram is especially common if you have dense breasts (having large amounts of fibrous or glandular tissue) or augmented breasts (having implants).

Unclear X-Rays

Despite a technician's best efforts, sometimes the images don't appear clear enough and need to be retaken. This may be the case if you have dense breast tissue.

Newer mammogram technology has been shown to help reduce callbacks. Check with your facility and ask if they used a 2D or 3D mammography machine. Updated 3D machines can more accurately see each breast from multiple angles, reducing the risk of getting images with overlapping tissue.

Medical History

If you have a family history of breast cancer or have had biopsies (even benign), your radiologist will be on high alert for any changes or abnormalities. You may experience a higher rate of callbacks from now on.

Weight-Loss Surgery

Studies show that surgical weight loss can increase breast density. Most people don't know they have developed dense breasts. It's not related to breast size or firmness (which is fat tissue). Instead, breast density measures glandular and fibrous tissue. Breast density can lead to a callback because it looks white on a mammogram, masking or mimicking malignancies. Additional screening will help interpret abnormalities.

Managing Anxiety Before and After a Callback

Getting a callback after a mammogram can bring many strong emotions, such as anger, anxiety, fear, disbelief, and sadness. Research shows that people avoid medical care due to feeling nervous, even when they know it's best for their health.

Fewer than 1 in 10 people are called back after an abnormal mammogram has breast cancer. Most likely, your callback is to double-check something. Ask to speak to your radiologist over the phone to get all the information you can. They want to help you understand what was seen and why you need to return.

If you're anxious, schedule an appointment with a therapist or counselor to discuss your feelings. Connect with people in-person or online who have also been called back after a mammogram screening.

Next Steps Once You Have Your Mammogram Results

You'll typically chat with your radiologist and get a summary of the findings during your second mammogram visit. You may also leave with a plan, which includes:

  • Continue with routine screenings: If a second mammogram clears up any questions, you can return to your regular mammogram schedule.
  • Follow-up sooner than normal: It's still likely nothing to worry about, but to be safe, schedule another mammogram in six months to ensure nothing changes over time.
  • Get a biopsy : You'll need a physical sample of the abnormality to rule out cancer.

Keep in mind that a breast biopsy is still not a cancer diagnosis. More than 1 million women get biopsies each year, of which 20% are malignant.

You may be called back to get a second (diagnostic) mammogram or additional testing to clear up any abnormalities or unclear results from your initial screening. A callback does not mean you have cancer. There are many reasons for a callback, such as unclear X-rays, calcification, dense breast tissue, and family history. Additional images often show the finding isn't cancer.

A Word From Verywell

It's always nerve-racking to get a call from your healthcare provider, expected or not. When it comes to mammograms, that anxiety spikes because of the high rate of breast cancer in our community.

The most important thing to remember is that you are setting yourself up for health and longevity by getting regular mammograms, giving yourself monthly breast exams at home, and talking to your healthcare provider about any breast changes.

No, quick mammogram callbacks are nothing to stress about. Less than 10% of people called back after an abnormal mammogram have breast cancer.

Yes. Radiologists often need a second set of images to get a clearer picture of what's typical for your unique breasts.

The length and process of a second mammogram will be similar to the first. A radiologist and technician will have prepared for your visit and know which images are needed to determine if an area is normal breast tissue.

Johns Hopkins Medicine. When to order a breast mri .

American Cancer Society. Getting called back after a mammogram .

American Cancer Society. What does the doctor look for on a mammogram?

Johns Hopkins Medicine. Understanding your mammogram report .

American Cancer Society. If you’re called back after a mammogram .

Partain N, Mokdad A, Puzziferri N, et al. Mammographic density changes in surgical weight loss-an indication for personalized screening .  BMC Med Imaging . 2018;18(1):10. doi:10.1186/s12880-017-0242-4

American Cancer Society. Breast density and your mammogram report .

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Core-needle biopsy for breast abnormalities .

By Larell Scardelli Scardelli holds a BA in creative writing and specializes in health and wellness content, focusing on diet and supplements.

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The many roadblocks that keep women from getting mammograms

Yuki Noguchi

Yuki Noguchi

CDC research finds that in addition to cost and access, other factors of daily life keep many women from getting screened for breast cancer. ( Story aired on All Things Considered on 4/9/24 .)

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Mammograms are critical in detecting breast cancer early, but everyday life challenges can get in the way of people getting that screening. New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points to some of the challenges people face in getting screened more often. NPR's Yuki Noguchi has more.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Guidelines recommend women over 40 get mammograms every other year. The new CDC report shows just over three-quarters of women aged 50 to 74 get their breast cancer screening. But if you look at those who don't, often they lack the money for a copay or transportation, or no one's reminded them to.

Deb Houry is chief medical officer at the CDC. She says the data show how economic hardships and emotional challenges are common barriers that prevent people from getting their mammograms.

DEB HOURY: We really see a cumulative impact. So what we saw was if you had three or more of these health-related social needs, that was when you really saw a difference in who wasn't getting the screening mammogram.

NOGUCHI: That difference is pretty stark - 65% with three or more of these social needs, like food insecurity, were able to get screened. That's compared to 83% of those not facing such challenges. Houry says the analysis shows the importance of physicians understanding more about how their patients' lives are shaped by various kinds of struggles, like paying for food and utilities.

HOURY: You're going to choose food over paying for a mammogram.

NOGUCHI: She says the research also shows that emotional factors also play a role in who seeks preventative care.

HOURY: I think if you're not feeling connected to others, you may not be going to medical care on a regular basis.

NOGUCHI: Houry says all of this new data should inform patient outreach.

HOURY: Providers can refer patients who have low income and are uninsured to those programs and health departments, as well, for free mammograms.

NOGUCHI: She says, in many cases, there are state and philanthropic programs offering free transportation or free mammograms, including ones funded by the CDC.

Yuki Noguchi, NPR News.

Copyright © 2024 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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What’s Keeping Women From Getting Mammograms?

It’s not just cost. social isolation, lack of transportation among top barriers to cancer screenings, new research shows.

Rachel Nania,

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About a quarter of women ages 50 to 74 are not up to date on routine mammograms despite pleas from doctors and public health experts that more middle-aged and older women get screened for breast cancer. A new study from federal researchers pinpoints several factors that are causing women to skip out on screenings — and it’s not just cost and access to health care.

Feeling socially isolated , experiencing food insecurity or job loss, or not having access to reliable transportation can affect mammogram participation, according to a study published April 9 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Another so-called health-related social need that keeps women from getting screened is a general dissatisfaction with life.

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“If we are to achieve higher breast cancer screening for all women, we have to look at all the possible challenges women face in getting mammograms,” Lisa C. Richardson, M.D., director of the CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, said in a news release.

Researchers analyzing data from the 2022 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System found that the more health-related social needs a woman has, the less likely she is to get a mammogram. About 83 percent of women with no health-related social needs had received a mammogram in the previous two years, compared with about 66 percent of those with three or more health-related social needs. The cost of health care was the biggest barrier, the study found.

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“The bottom line is, women are more likely to get lifesaving mammograms when their social needs are met,” Jacqueline Miller, M.D., medical director of the CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, said in a news briefing.

Breast cancer, which can also be diagnosed in men, is the most common cancer among women in the U.S., and a 2024 report from the American Cancer Society shows its incidence is increasing . The disease claims more than 42,000 U.S. lives each year, and a disproportionate share of these deaths are among Black women. The median age of a breast cancer diagnosis in women is 63. However, screening with a mammogram — an X-ray picture of the breast — can reduce cancer deaths, research suggests. A Swedish study published in the journal Cancer found a 41 percent reduction in fatal breast cancers within 10 years of diagnosis among women who participated in mammography screenings.

New draft guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend that women start getting regular mammograms at 40 , rather than 50, and continue with them every other year through age 74. Public comments on the draft recommendations end June 5, after which final guidelines will be issued.  

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Overcoming barriers

If any social factors are keeping you from getting screened for breast cancer, know this.

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services this year implemented a new billing code that allows health care providers to be reimbursed for conducting a risk assessment for health-related social needs and connecting patients to services that can help. Questions in such an assessment might include whether a patient gets enough to eat or has access to transportation, the CDC’s chief medical officer, Debra Houry, M.D., explained in a news briefing. “Asking these questions is critically important. It really just takes a minute to focus on a couple of key questions to open that dialogue between a patient and a provider,” she said.

Medicare and most private insurance plans cover preventive screening mammograms at no out-of-pocket cost. What’s more, women who are uninsured or underinsured are eligible for free or low-cost breast cancer screenings through the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program .

“These programs are investments made by CDC and are available across the United States to state, tribal and territorial health departments,” Houry said. You can find a screening program near you on the CDC’s website.

Rachel Nania is an award-winning health editor and writer at AARP.org, who covers a range of topics including diseases and treatments. 

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  3. Mammograms: What to expect and how to minimize pain

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  4. COVID-19 and Mammograms

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  6. Mammogram what you need to know

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  1. Humor Happy Hour

  2. Why I Hate Doctor Visits

  3. (BreastScreen)Behind The Scenes

  4. Are Mammogram Callbacks a Reason to Worry?

  5. Look Younger! TESTING NEW MAKEUP 2023, Mammogram Visit, NEW FENTY Eaze Drops Stick

  6. Stephanie McDonell

COMMENTS

  1. How to Prepare for a Mammogram

    A mammogram is an important step in taking care of yourself and your breasts. Whether you're a mammogram newbie or a veteran, knowing what to expect may help the process go more smoothly. How to prepare for your mammogram. If you have a choice, go to a facility that specializes in mammograms and does many mammograms a day.

  2. ACS Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines

    Women 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year. Women 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms. Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live at least 10 more years. All women should understand what to expect when getting a mammogram for ...

  3. Mammograms

    A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast. Mammograms can be used to check for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease. This type of mammogram is called a screening mammogram. Screening mammograms usually involve two or more x-ray pictures, or images, of each breast. The x-ray images often make it possible to ...

  4. How to Schedule a Mammogram

    Call the breast center or the hospital's main number. Ask to be transferred to the breast center or women's health center. Once you are transferred, ask who you should speak with about scheduling a free mammogram. If the receptionist doesn't know, ask to speak to a patient or nurse navigator.

  5. What Is Breast Cancer Screening?

    For many women, mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms. Having regular mammograms can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. At this time, a mammogram is the best way to find breast cancer for most women of screening age. ...

  6. Mammograms

    Follow-up mammograms (diagnostic mammograms) Mammography can be used as a follow-up test when something abnormal is found on a screening mammogram, during a clinical breast exam or when a person notices a change in their breast. A mammogram used as a follow-up test is called a "diagnostic mammogram.". Although it's called a "diagnostic ...

  7. Mammogram

    A mammogram is an X-ray image of your breasts. It can be used either for breast cancer screening or for diagnostic purposes, such as to investigate symptoms or unusual findings on another imaging test. During a mammogram, your breasts are compressed between two firm surfaces to spread out the breast tissue.

  8. What Is a Mammogram?

    Español (Spanish) Print. Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early. A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. Doctors use a mammogram to look for early signs of breast cancer. Regular mammograms can find breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before it can be felt.

  9. Mammogram: How It's Done, Preparation & What to Expect

    A mammogram will create a detailed image of the breast to show the size and shape of a lump or change in the breast. Your doctor may order a diagnostic mammogram after finding a lump, you have other signs and symptoms of a breast condition, or if you have dense breast tissue. A three-dimensional, or 3D mammogram is a newer type of mammogram.

  10. Mammogram: What It Is, Types, Purpose & Results

    A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray of breast tissue. Healthcare providers use mammograms, or mammography, to look for early signs of breast cancer before symptoms develop. This is called a screening mammogram. Providers also use mammography to look for any abnormalities if you develop a new symptom, such as a lump, pain, nipple discharge or breast ...

  11. Mammogram

    Mammogram. Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 09/2021. A mammogram is an X-ray that checks for cancer in breast tissue. The technique used to do these X-rays is called mammography. The images may show a small tumor that cannot be felt during an examination or other breast changes.

  12. Breast Cancer Screening Tests and Recommendations

    For more information, download Komen's Breast Cancer Screening & Follow-Up Tests and Mammography resources. If you or a loved one needs more information about breast cancer screening, contact the Komen Breast Care Helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) or [email protected].

  13. What to Expect During Your First Mammogram

    A mammogram is a low-dose imaging system used to examine breast tissue. It can help doctors detect abnormalities, like lumps that are too small to be felt, and research has shown that annual mammograms can help detect cancer earlier—when it is most treatable. "Mammography is an early-detection tool," says Jenny.

  14. Get Tested for Breast Cancer

    A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast. Mammograms use a very low level of x-rays, which are a type of radiation. The risk of harm from this radiation is very low. Mammograms can be used to screen (test) for breast cancer in women with no signs or symptoms. They can also help doctors figure out if cancer is causing a particular symptom ...

  15. What Is a Mammogram?

    Mammograms. Mammograms are low-dose x-rays that can help find breast cancer. If you've been told you need a mammogram, or you're ready to start breast cancer screening, the topics below can help you know what to expect.

  16. Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations

    Figure 3.1 shows breast cancer screening recommendations for women at average risk.. Benefits of screening mammography for women ages 40-49. Screening mammography in women ages 40-49 may lower the risk of dying from breast cancer, though the benefit is less than for older women [].Komen believes all women should have access to regular screening mammograms when they and their health care ...

  17. National Mammography Program

    National Mammography Program Through our partner facilities, we provide free mammograms and diagnostic services for women in need. ... If there is not an NBCF partner facility in your area, visit our breast cancer resources page for other resources near you. Ask about financial assistance programs, if needed. Search Facilities. NEW! Patient ...

  18. Mammogram

    For appointments at other locations. Request an appointment online. Or call Mayo Clinic's Central Appointment Office: 507-538-3270. 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time. Monday through Friday. PRC-20198295. Patient Care & Health Information.

  19. Mammograms & Breast Cancer Screening

    They're not for women who have a health condition that may make it hard to diagnose or treat breast cancer. We're here for you. Call us at 1-877-632-6789 or. Breast cancer screening exams help find breast cancer at an early stage. When found early, the chances for successfully treating the disease are greatest.

  20. Home

    An annual mammogram offers peace of mind. Take the time to schedule yours today. An annual mammogram offers peace of mind. Take the time to schedule yours today. Search. Search. ... Preparing For Your Visit. Podcast. Breast Cancer Support Groups. Patients. Uninsured Patients. Insured Patients. Insurance Plans. Referring Physicians.

  21. Mammogram Age Guidelines: What You Need to Know

    Annual mammograms are the best way to detect breast cancer early, when treatment is most effective. Yet changing national guidance about what age to start - from 40 to 50 and now back to 40 again - can be confusing. Pouneh Razavi, M.D., director of Breast Imaging in the National Capital Region, oversees breast imaging operations at the Sullivan Breast Center at Sibley Memorial Hospital and ...

  22. Mammogram Results

    This may also suggest that the radiologist wants to compare your new mammogram with older ones to see if there have been changes in the area over time. 1. Negative. This is a normal test result. Your breasts look the same (they are symmetrical) with no masses (lumps), distorted structures, or suspicious calcifications.

  23. 13 Reasons for a Mammogram Callback

    Getting a callback after a mammogram can bring many strong emotions, such as anger, anxiety, fear, disbelief, and sadness. Research shows that people avoid medical care due to feeling nervous, even when they know it's best for their health. Fewer than 1 in 10 people are called back after an abnormal mammogram has breast cancer.

  24. The many roadblocks that keep women from getting mammograms

    CDC research finds that in addition to cost and access, other factors of daily life keep many women from getting screened for breast cancer. (Story aired on All Things Considered on 4/9/24.)

  25. Why Do Women Avoid Getting Mammograms?

    However, screening with a mammogram — an X-ray picture of the breast — can reduce cancer deaths, research suggests. A Swedish study published in the journal Cancer found a 41 percent reduction in fatal breast cancers within 10 years of diagnosis among women who participated in mammography screenings.

  26. GE HealthCare to feature Mobile Mammography Screening Truck along with

    Visit booth 301 to learn more about GE HealthCare's personalized breast cancer screening solutions, including: Senographe Pristina , a mammography system designed to provide a better patient ...

  27. One in three women skip mammograms when faced with job loss, other

    More than 40,000 people in the U.S. die of breast cancer each year, according to the CDC. Mammograms have been found to reduce breast-cancer mortality, because early detection of the cancer can be ...