Digital Mammography

Mammography plays a central role in the early detection of breast cancers because it can show changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them. Current guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the American Cancer Society (ACS), the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) recommend that women undergo a screening mammogram every year beginning at age 40. Research has shown that annual mammograms lead to early detection of breast cancers, when they are most curable and breast- Mammography is a specific type of imaging screening tool that uses a low-dose X-ray system to examine the breasts. The Northern Radiology Imaging Center offers digital mammography, the latest in high-tech imaging to detect breast cancer at its earliest stages, before women experience symptoms.

A digital mammogram differs from a film mammogram in that the system uses specially designed detectors to produce digital images that can be displayed on a computer screen. These images can be easily enhanced and manipulated, transmitted, and stored directly on a computer just like any other computer file. The system assists radiologists in detecting breast cancers by digitizing and analyzing mammograms for suspicious regions.

Early Detection

Conservation therapies are available.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) also recommends that women who have had breast cancer and those who are at increased risk due to a genetic history of breast cancer seek expert medical advice about whether they should begin screening before age 40 and about the frequency of screening.

Screening vs. Diagnostic Mammograms

Screening mammograms are used as a tool to detect early breast cancer in women experiencing no symptoms. It involves two X-rays of each breast. Diagnostic mammography is used to evaluate a patient with clinical findings such as a lump. It is also done after an abnormal screening mammogram to evaluate an area of concern. A diagnostic mammogram involves more images than a screening mammogram. Following a diagnostic mammogram the results will be discussed with you at your appointment.

Urgent Appointments

If you discover a lump, you can request an Accelerated Diagnostic Breast Evaluation within 24 hours of receiving a written prescription from your primary care physician or gynecologist. The prescription is necessary for an urgent diagnostic mammogram.

Exam Preparations for Outpatients

  • Avoid caffeine prior to the exam.
  • Do not use deodorant or powder prior to the exam.
  • Let the scheduler know if you have breast implants when you make your appointment.
  • Wear a two-piece outfit on the day of your exam so you only have to remove your top and bra.
  • Exams are best performed during the first week of your menstrual cycle unless otherwise instructed by your physician.
  • If you have had a previous mammogram at another facility other than a Northern Radiology Imaging Center location, please bring these previous films with you.

For additional resources and information about radiology procedures from radiology experts, check out the RSNA and ACR’s website: