Mammography

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207-777-4060 

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The Women’s Imaging Center at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center is open from 7:30 am -5:30 pm, Monday - Friday.  All mammography procedures are to be scheduled through our scheduling line at 207-777-4059.

Overview of Mammographyjanet-paione-mammo
Mammography is a diagnostic tool used to detect breast cancer. Screening and diagnostic procedures are performed by female mammography specialists. Most screening mammograms can be completed in 15 minutes.

Breast Imaging Procedures
Mammograms are X-rays of the breast.  The latest digital technology is used to obtain images of the structures within the breast.  The information provided on the mammogram can most often assist the physician in determining whether a lump is solid or cystic. Ultrasound is often used with mammography to assist with the diagnosis. Certain characteristics and changes in the breast determine whether the breast should be biopsied or not.  For those changes within the breast that are next to the chest wall, advanced MRI imaging is available at St. Mary's.

Radiologists interpret the mammograms by studying the current images and comparing them with previous mammograms whenever possible.  A highly specialized computerized assisted diagnostic system (CAD) is used as well and acts as another set of eyes to evaluate the images.

Mammograms are now a lot gentler with the use of the MammoPad.  The MammoPad is a soft foam pad that provides a cushion between you and the mammography machine.  Many women have said this pad has made the vital exam less cold and more comfortable.

Breast Biopsies are performed so that a suspicious looking area of the breast can be further investigated. A sample of the suspicious breast tissue is removed for examination. This is the only certain way to determine whether the abnormality is cancerous or not.

dr-place-reading-a-mammoStereotactic core biopsies are offered at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center. This procedure allows the Radiologist to obtain a sample of the affected breast tissue. Under computer guidance, a needle is inserted into the breast and positioned at the area of concern. Once the needle is in correct position, tissue samples are taken from the breast and sent to pathology for examination. This procedure takes approximately 1 hour, requires very little preparation for the patient, and allows the patient to resume their normal activity after the procedure. The results are the same as a surgical biopsy with much less cost and minimal, if no scarring.

The stereotatic breast biopsy is the preferred choice, however, because the size and location of some lesions, surgical excisional biopsies may still be required.

Needle Localization for surgical biopsy is a method used to determine the exact location of the lesion to be removed by the surgeon.

During a needle localization, a Radiologist will place a needle into the breast to localize the exact site for the biopsy. A small wire is left in the breast and the surgeon uses this wire as a guide when performing the biopsy.

Breast Self-Exam

At age 20 all women should begin to examine their breasts regularly. The best time to do a breast self-exam (BSE) is 1 week after your period starts or the same time each month. Familiarity with how the breast changes is key to successful BSE, and the breasts should be examined monthly in order to recognize these changes. Everyone’s breasts are different. It is even possible for one breast to look different than the other. Monthly Breast Self-Exams help you to become familiar with the feel and look of your breasts, so changes will be more noticeable to you. If changes are noticed you should contact your doctor. Your best defense against breast cancer is to find it early.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q- How often should I have my mammogram?
A- The American Cancer Society suggests the first mammogram by the age of 40. At    
      the age of 40, a mammogram should be scheduled every 1 to 2 years. Because the
      chance of breast cancer increases as you get older a yearly mammogram is
      recommended after age 50.

Q- Why do a mammograms need to use compression?
A- Compression spreads out the breast tissue so that the Radiologist is better able to
      visualize more of the breast tissue.

Q- Why can’t I wear deodorant?
A- Some powders and deodorants have little metallic crystal that could show up on the
      mammogram images.

Q- Why should I avoid caffeine when I have my mammogram?
A- Caffeine can make the breast more tender, which can make the test more
      uncomfortable.

More Information

Licensing/Accreditation


Mammography (Excellent information for patients from the American College of Radiology.)

Mammography Facts*

  • Mammography screening is the best way to detect breast cancer in its earlier stages and saves lives.
  • Screening mammography reduces breast cancer mortality 25-30% for women ages 50-70 and 18% for women ages 40-50
  • Early detection gives women new options for breast-conserving therapy
  • 4 of every 10- women don't get annual mammograms
  • 50% of women report moderate to extreme discomfort**
  • 75% of women who don't return for future studies give pain as the reason***
  • 88% of the pre-invasive breast cancer diagnosed is ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
  • 5% in 10% of women undergoing screening mammography will be advised to undergo additional testing based on an abnormal or inconclusive mammography screening
***  2007-2008 Cancer Facts and Figures, American Cancer Society, USA
***  Dullum, Joanna R. et. al., Radiology 2002
***  Carney, Patricia, Cancer, July 15, 2002

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