What is mammography?

    A mammogram, also known as mammography, is a low-dose X-ray procedure used by healthcare providers to examine breast tissue for early signs of breast cancer, often before symptoms manifest. This preventive measure, known as a screening mammogram, aims to detect abnormalities early. Additionally, mammography is employed for diagnostic purposes when individuals experience symptoms like lumps, pain, nipple discharge, or changes in breast skin.

    While advancements in breast cancer treatments have enhanced survival rates, the significance of early detection through screening mammograms cannot be overstated. Despite the prevalence of findings in mammograms being benign or noncancerous, less than 1 in 10 individuals necessitating further evaluation following a mammogram are diagnosed with cancer.

What are the different types of mammograms?

    In essence, there are two primary types of mammograms:

1. Digital Mammography:

  • Utilizes either 2D or 3D technology.
  • Digital mammography stores images electronically, facilitating easier evaluation and sharing.
  • Typically, it involves capturing at least two images of each breast from different angles, offering a two-dimensional (2D) perspective.

2. 3D Mammography:

  • Also referred to as digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT).
  • Represents a newer approach to mammography.
  • Involves compressing each breast once while the machine captures multiple low-dose X-rays in an arc motion.
  • - Computer processing amalgamates these images to produce a three-dimensional view of breast tissues.

  • Studies demonstrate enhanced cancer detection, particularly lower-grade cancers, and reduced false-positive rates with 3D mammography.
  • - Increasingly favoured for both screening and diagnostic mammograms due to their benefits.

What are the primary uses of mammography?

    If our oncologists prescribe a mammogram as a routine examination to screen for cancer or detect any changes, it's termed a screening mammogram. During this procedure, multiple breast images are captured using specialized equipment.

    In cases where a lump or other breast cancer symptom is present, a diagnostic mammogram is ordered by your doctor. Additionally, individuals with breast implants usually undergo a diagnostic mammogram.

    Diagnostic mammograms are more comprehensive than screening ones. They often involve additional X-rays to obtain views of the breast from various angles. Our radiologists may also zoom in on any areas of concern for a closer examination.

What is the difference between screening mammography and diagnostic mammography?

    A screening mammogram is a regular examination, typically conducted annually, recommended by healthcare providers to detect any signs of cancer or abnormal breast tissue before symptoms arise. It serves as a vital tool for the early detection of breast cancer, facilitating timely treatment that may be more effective if the cancer is detected in its early stages.

    During a routine screening mammogram, at least two images of each breast are captured from different angles, typically from top to bottom and side to side. Individuals with breast implants may require additional photos for a comprehensive examination.

    If a screening mammogram reveals abnormal tissue or a new breast concern, healthcare providers may order a diagnostic mammogram. While both mammograms utilize the same equipment, diagnostic mammography incorporates additional imaging techniques, such as spot compression, supplementary angles, or magnification views, all supervised by a radiologist during the examination.

Procedure Details


    1. When scheduling your mammogram, consider the following:

    Inform your healthcare provider if you are breastfeeding, pregnant, or suspect pregnancy, as they may recommend a breast ultrasound instead.

    2. Avoid scheduling your mammogram the week before or during menstruation, as breast tenderness during this time may increase discomfort.

    3. If you have breast implants or have recently received a vaccine, notify the scheduler.

    On the day of your mammogram:

    1. Maintain your routine, including eating, drinking, and taking medications as usual.

    2. Refrain from using deodorant, perfume, lotion, or body powder, as these products can affect the accuracy of the X-ray images.

    3. Some prefer wearing separates instead of dresses for easier undressing from the waist up. You will be provided with a medical gown or drape for the procedure.

During the procedure

    During a mammogram, the following steps are typically involved:

    1. You will be asked to remove all clothing and jewellery from the waist up and provided with an open-front hospital gown or drape.

    2. Standing in front of the mammography machine, you will be guided by a technologist to position one breast at a time on a breast support plate.

    3. A plastic paddle will be lowered to compress your breast against the support plate. While this compression may cause discomfort or pressure for about 3 to 5 seconds, inform the technologist if you find it intolerable, and adjustments can be made.

    4. X-rays of your breast will be taken while it is compressed.

    5. If you have two breasts, the process will be repeated for the other breast.

    6. Once the X-rays are taken, you can put your clothes back on and leave the facility.

After the procedure

    After their mammograms, most individuals can typically resume their regular activities immediately.


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