Mammography (also known as a mammogram procedure) is, and the examination of a breast using low dose X-rays. Most medical experts agree that successful treatment of breast cancer is often linked to early diagnosis, and mammography is considered the most effective tool for early breast tumor detection. It plays a central role in the early detection of breast cancer, as it can show changes I the breast up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them.

Mammography is one of the most important weapons in the fight against breast cancer. Breast cancer will affect about one in eight women and is one of the leading causes of cancer death and morbidity. The key to successful treatment is early detection. Cancer screening must include routine monthly self-examination, annual mammography after the age of 40, annual physical examination by your doctor, as well as other more advanced imaging methods such as Breast MRI or Ultrasound in some cases.

Selma Carlson uses full-filed digital mammography. Digital mammography uses detectors that convert X-rays into electrical signals. These electrical signals produce images of the breast that can be seen on a computer screen. The radiologists able to change the magnification, orientation, brightness, and contrast of these images. Computer aided detection, or CAD, uses a digitized mammographic image to search for abnormal areas of density, mass, or calcification that may indicate the presence of cancer. The CAD system highlights these areas on the images, alerting radiologists to the need for further analysis.

What are the advantages of digital mammography and computer-aided detection?

  • Digital mammography eliminates the darkroom process for films, thus decreasing exam times.
  • These processes offer superior contrast resolution and improved ability to manipulate images, making it possible to detect breast cancers more accurately.
  • Computer-aided detection, or CAD, obtains a second, computerized reading, with the goal of finding more cancers or more accurately gauging signs of malignancy.
  • Digital mammography improves image access, transmission, retrieval, and storage.
  • The process requires a lower radiation dose than conventional mammography.

In addition to mammography, we offer the full array of other breast care examinations including breast MRI, breast ultrasound, and breast biopsy (ultrasound).

3D Mammography

Selma Carlson offers 3D Tomosynthesis, the latest in mammography technology which creates high resolution three-dimensional images of the breast. Clinical studies have shown that Tomosynthesis not only improved the ability to detect cancer but also reduces the number of false positives when compared to traditional two- dimensional mammography.

How often should I have a mammogram?

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 a mammography screening every year for women, beginning at age 40.

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

When should I schedule my mammogram?

Before scheduling a mammogram, you should discuss problems with your breasts with your doctor. In addition, inform your doctor of hormone use, and any prior surgeries, and your family or personal history of breast cancer. Generally, the best time to schedule your exam is one week following your period. Do not schedule your mammogram for the week before your period if your breasts are usually tender during this time. Always inform your mammography technologist if there is any possibility that you are pregnant.

What should I expect during this exam?

Your certified Selma Carlson technologist will explain the procedure to you and answer your questions. The exam takes about fifteen minutes to half an hour, depending on the number of images needed. You will feel pressure on the breast as it is squeezed by the compression paddle. Some women with sensitive breasts may and may experience some minor discomfort. Be sure to inform the technologist if pain occurs as compression is increased. If discomfort is significant, less compression will be used.

Often, additional mammographic views will be required to complete your exam. Whenever possible, these views will be obtained on the same day as your first exam, but sometimes you may be called back on another day.

If you have prior exams obtained at another institution, we recommend you bring them at the time of your mammogram to help expedite your care. Please let us know about any old exams performed elsewhere.

As mandated by the F.D.A., you will receive a prompt notification from us by mail regarding your mammogram results. Our note may indicate that your exam shows no abnormalities or may indicate the need for you to contact your doctor for other required tests or follow-up. In either event, you should discuss the results with your doctor. Even if your mammogram is normal, you might still have breast cancer, and you should seek other ways of evaluating any suspicious lump or other symptoms such as pain, bleeding from the nipple, retraction of the skin, or other breast changes you discover on self-examination.

Also, please don't be overly alarmed if we ask you to come back for more mammographic views or more tests. We are very careful to complete your evaluation diligently, and in most instances, these additional procedures confirm a normal examination. In other instances, however, this diligence enables the early detection of breast cancer, which is our goal.

Breast Ultrasound and 3D Whole Breast Ultrasound- Automated Breast Ultrasound (ABUS)

Breast ultrasound is generally used as an adjunct to mammography and other breast diagnostic techniques. It is not a screening exam for breast cancer, but instead is usually used to determine if a palpable nodule or nodule seen on mammograms is a cyst or solid nodule. Ultrasound is often also used to assess lumps in women under 30 years old or breast feeding women who are not candidates for mammography.

Ultrasound is a painless test that uses sound waves to create medical images. The patient lies on a comfortable exam table and a hand held device is used by a certified technologist to evaluate the area of interest. The exam may also be conducted, read and interpreted by a board-certified radiologist.

In some cases, patient may undergo ultrasound-guided biopsies of solid or cystic breast nodules. The procedure is very similar to all ultrasound-guided needle biopsy procedures and is performed by your Selma Carlson radiologist.

Automated Breast Ultrasound (ABUS)

Selma Carlson has new imaging technology is designed for the 40% of women with dense breast tissue. It utilizes ultrasound to scan the entire breast while the patient lays in a comfortable prone position. There is no breast compression or radiation associated with this procedure, and only takes 30 seconds per breast. The scan produces 3D volumetric images of the breast for review by the radiologist.

Selma Carlson has new imaging technology is designed for the 40% of women with dense breast tissue. It utilizes ultrasound to scan the entire breast while the patient lays in a comfortable prone position. There is no breast compression or radiation associated with this procedure, and only takes 30 seconds per breast. The scan produces 3D volumetric images of the breast for review by the radiologist.

***This does not replace your yearly mammogram***

Breast MRI

Selma Carlson has a highly specialized, dedicated breast coil for our MRI machine. This is valuable in the assessment of patients with difficult mammographic and clinical exams. It is extremely valuable in helping distinguish benign and malignant lesions. Injection of a small amount of intravenous contrast is necessary to optimize this examination.