Screening Mammography

What is screening mammography?

A screening mammogram is a low-dose x-ray exam of breast tissue. The images obtained during a mammogram are used to detect changes in breast tissue, including evidence of breast cancer.

Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram each year.

Mammography is the most effective method of early breast cancer detection. It can show changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or healthcare provider can feel them. These are often smaller and more curable cancers.

Screening mammograms are meant for asymptomatic women with normal clinical findings (the exam performed by your healthcare provider).

Where can I schedule a screening mammogram?

Screening mammography can be scheduled at:

What is a digital mammogram?

Digital mammography is a technological advancement in breast imaging. Similar to conventional mammography, the breast is compressed and low-dose x-rays pass through the breast tissue. The difference is that the images are recorded by means of an electronic digital detector and a computer instead of film.

Using a specialized computer system, the radiologist is able to enhance, magnify or manipulate the electronic images for more detailed evaluation. Films can also be made from electronic images.

Digital mammography has the greatest benefit to women under the age of 50, premenopausal or perimenopausal, or who have dense breast tissue.

What should I bring to my appointment?

– Your insurance card and a valid photo ID.

Please arrive 5-10 minutes early to complete registration.

How should I prepare for my exam?
  • Schedule your clinical (physical) breast exam prior to your mammogram.

  • Schedule your mammogram the week following your period.

  • If you have breast tenderness, take a mild pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol®) about one hour before your scheduled mammogram. If caffeine causes breast tenderness, refrain from caffeinated beverages for one week prior to your mammogram.

  • Do not wear deodorant, lotion or body powder on your chest or underarm areas on the day of your appointment. These can appear on the mammogram images as calcium spots.

  • Please inform us if there is a possibility that you may be pregnant.

How long will my exam take?

Your breast will only be in compression a matter of seconds for each image taken, but please plan on 15-30 minutes for your screening mammogram appointment. During this time, your technologist will update your medical record, answer your questions, and perform the necessary imaging. 

What happens during my exam?

The technologist will position your breast between a small platform and an acrylic paddle, which will gradually compress for each image. The process will be repeated for your other breast. A typical screening mammogram consists of four to six images. This may cause discomfort, but you should not experience significant pain. For the best quality images, you will be asked to remain as still as possible during the few seconds it takes to acquire the images.

What happens after my exam?

Your images will be interpreted by one of our board-certified breast imaging radiologists (medical doctor). The findings will be sent to your healthcare provider who will then contact you to discuss the results. We will also mail you a letter with your results.


Dr. Sue Crook reviews a digital screening mammogram.

In certain circumstances, you may need further diagnostic evaluation, such as a diagnostic mammogram or an ultrasound. This does not necessarily indicate an abnormality was found or that your mammogram was not properly obtained, but that additional images are needed to ensure all breast tissue is fully evaluated. 


If you are anxious or nervous about getting a mammogram, please watch this short video with four tips for a pain free mammogram.

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