Answers to Your Questions about Mammograms

Even if you have already visited your local hospital for a mammogram before, you may have some questions about this type of exam. Mammograms, such as those available at MountainView Hospital , are one type of exam that can be helpful in detecting cancerous changes of the breasts. Mammograms are a type of X-ray exam that use a low dose of radiation to produce images of the internal structures of the body.

What Are Screening and Diagnostic Mammograms?

Screening and diagnostic mammograms are performed in much the same way, except that a radiologist performing a diagnostic mammogram may take more images from various angles. A screening mammogram is one that is performed on a regular basis, despite the absence of any potential breast cancer symptoms. Typically, this type of mammogram involves taking two X-ray images of each of the breasts. In contrast, diagnostic mammograms are performed after a patient or a doctor has detected possible signs of breast cancer . A woman might also be referred for a diagnostic mammogram if she has had abnormal breast changes detected by a screening mammogram.

What Does the Radiologist Look For?

The radiologist will carefully examine X-ray images for any abnormalities, including differences from one breast to the other and changes from past mammograms. Each image is examined for signs of a mass or lump. Not all lumps are cancerous. The ones that are cancerous tend to have an irregular shape. The radiologist will also check for signs of calcification, or deposits of calcium. Macrocalcifications, or large deposits, are not typically indicative of cancer. Small deposits, or microcalcifications, may indicate that an area is comprised of rapidly dividing cells. Rapid cell division may be characteristic of cancerous changes.

What Happens If My Results Are Positive?

If the radiologist detects abnormalities, this does not necessarily mean that cancer is present. It is possible to have a false positive result. Additional tests will be needed, such as a breast ultrasound, MRI, or biopsy.

MountainView Hospital provides compassionate breast care services for women throughout the Las Vegas area, including digital mammography and minimally invasive breast biopsies. Our community hospital is also proud to provide exceptional stroke care, emergency care, and bariatric weight loss procedures. Patients can contact a registered nurse at our hospital by calling (702) 233-5300.

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