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A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast taken under compression. Compressing the breast spreads the tissue into a more even layer, improving image quality and allowing a lower dose of radiation to be used. Mammograms are important for monitoring breast health and for early detection of cancer.
We recommend that women get their first mammogram at age 40 and yearly thereafter. You should have a yearly mammogram after age 40 even if you have no family history of breast cancer or no symptoms or observable changes in your breasts. A mammogram can detect abnormalities as much as two years before they’re noticeable through a self-examination or a breast exam by your physician. 
  • 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetimes
  • 1 in 6 breast cancers occur in women aged 40 to 49
  • 75 percent of women diagnosed have no family history of breast cancer
  • Since 1990, mammography has helped reduce breast cancer mortality in the U.S. by nearly one third
We recommend scheduling a yearly mammogram during a month that you can easily remember, such as your birth month.

Find out more about how mammography saves lives.
Breast exams are recommended every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women in their 40s and older. Monthly breast self-exams are recommended for women of all ages. All women should be familiar how their breasts normally feel, and report any changes to their doctor or nurse.
Full Field Digital Mammography and Breast Tomosynthesis
We use full field digital mammography which is a 2-dimensional picture of the breast, or breast tomosynthesis (more commonly known as 3D mammography) a 3-dimensional picture of the breast, which is the latest in mammogram technology. Full field digital mammography offers numerous benefits, including consistent compression across the entire breast, and a sharp digital image that provides more information about breast tissue. In addition, 3D mammography specifically allows doctors to examine breast tissue one layer at a time by using high-powered computing to convert digital breast images into a stack of very thin layers or "slices." Using 3D mammography and digital mammography together for screening has proven to significantly reduce the need to have patients return for follow-up breast exams.

Benefits of 3D Mammography
3D mammography captures multiple slices of the breast, all at different angles. The images are brought together to create a crystal-clear 3D reconstruction of the breast. The radiologist is then able to view the reconstruction, one thin slice at a time, almost like turning pages in a book. That makes it easier for doctors to see if there's anything to be concerned about. And there's less chance for a cancer to hide behind overlapping tissue.

A 3D mammogram may be used as a screening tool in conjunction with a traditional mammogram, or may be used by itself for a diagnostic mammogram.

Getting Your Mammogram
A mammogram takes about 20 to 30 minutes and requires no special preparation or medication. Be sure to tell the technologist about any symptoms you may have experienced, such as discomfort or pain in your breasts, swelling, or change in size or shape. Also inform your technologist if you have breast implants. The technologist will position your breast on the mammography unit and it will be slowly compressed. The compression serves several purposes: it allows a lower dose of x-ray to be used, increases the sharpness of the image, and spreads the tissue more evenly to allow internal structures to be seen more clearly. You'll be asked to remain very still and may be asked to hold your breath as each image is taken. The technologist will reposition your breast as needed for additional images, and then repeat the process for the other breast. Your doctor will discuss the frequency with which you should have a mammogram, based on your health, family history and other factors.

For more information about The Breast Center, call the Nurse Navigator at 701.712.4263 or 800.472.2113 ext. 4263.


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