Mammograms are vital to finding and treating breast cancer, benign tumors, and cysts.
While guidelines vary, UPMC experts suggest starting breast cancer screenings at 40.
We offer 3D mammograms for breast cancer screenings.
Talk to your PCP or OB/GYN about when you should start screening. They may want you to start routine screenings sooner based on your family's health history.
Digital or screening mammograms are done to find cancer before there are any symptoms. Even if you do not have any breast problems, an exam is recommended and should also be done if you have a personal or family history of breast cancer, benign breast disease, or breast implants. A prescription is not needed for this exam.
Digital mammography is like a standard mammogram, except it doesn't use film. Instead, it uses a digital detector to take x-rays and stores them on a computer.
Screening mammograms produce:
Only take one top-to-bottom picture and one side-to-side picture of your breast.
Compress your breast, which can cause your breast tissue to overlap. This can make it harder for your doctors to see signs of cancer.
Since they take multiple pictures from different angles, studies show that 3D mammograms can:
By using a computer to collect the images, our state-of-the-art digital mammography systems:
Do not apply deodorant, talcum powder, lotion, or perfume near your breasts or under your arms. They can affect the quality and clarity of the x-ray.
Ask your doctor if you should take pain medicine, like ibuprofen, to relieve post-test discomfort.
Wear comfortable, two-piece clothing so you can easily remove your shirt.
Bring copies of past mammograms and report with you, or contact your previous mammography facility to send them, if this if your first time at a UPMC center. UPMC will wait up to two weeks to receive your results if we don't have any prior images on file to make sure our radiologists have the opportunity to compare.
If you're pregnant or think you might be, tell your imaging tech before your mammogram starts. The radiation from the x-ray exposure can be harmful to an unborn baby.
Describe any breast problems to your tech.
Take off your shirt, bra, and any jewelry. We'll give you a wrap or gown to wear.
Your imaging tech will:
Place you in front of a special x-ray machine with a platform to place your breast on. Adjust the height of the platform to lift one breast.
Move a plastic, contoured plate close to the platform to gently compress the breast for a few seconds. This slight pressure spreads the breast tissue allowing for a clearer image.
Tell the technologist if you are feeling any discomfort as we are committed to making this as comfortable as possible. At UPMC, many of our sites use the new smart curve paddles for your comfort.
Take two pictures of the breast.
Repeat the steps above on the other breast.
Your tech may need to take more than four digital pictures of the breasts if:
You can return to your normal routine right away after your mammogram.
A radiologist studies your high-quality digital breast x-rays and sends your imaging test results to your doctor via our state-of-the-art computer system. You should receive test results within 7 to 10 days.
You can also view your test results at your UPMC patient portal account.
Call your doctor's office if you have questions about your mammogram results.