MultiCare Health System

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Breast Health

Digital Mammography

Digital vs Anolog - breast

Whether it’s time for your annual breast cancer screening or your provider has asked you to get a diagnostic mammogram, digital mammography offers a number of benefits.

This technology:

  • Exposes you to less radiation than traditional film mammography
  • Takes a digital image that is stored in a computer
  • Produces images with far greater clarity

In addition to digital mammography, MultiCare uses computer-aided detection or CAD software, which automatically reviews your images and marks potential abnormalities for the radiologist to examine while reading your mammogram.

What’s it like to get a mammogram?

Your mammogram is performed in a private setting by a certified female technologist with advanced training in mammography. Typically, a screening mammogram consists of two views of each breast: one from above and one from the side. Images are obtained by compressing your breast tissue between a compression paddle and plate. It’s essential that compression be adequate for the image to reveal subtle abnormalities and reduce your exposure to radiation.

Before your appointment

You can minimize your discomfort from breast compression by:

  • Scheduling your examination one week following your menstrual cycle
  • Eliminating coffee, tea or caffeinated products five days prior to your exam
  • Taking a non-aspirin pain reliever such as Tylenol (Acetaminophen), Motrin/Advil (Ibuprofen), or Aleve (Naproxen) one hour before your examination

Tell your mammogram technologist if:

  • You’ve had previous mammograms at other locations
  • You’re nursing or if you think you could be pregnant
  • You have breast implants, so that extra time may be allotted
  • You’ve had any recent breast surgeries or biopsies
  • You have a personal history of breast cancer

The entire exam should take approximately 30 minutes. Please arrive 15 minutes before your exam and be sure to remove any powder, perfumes, deodorant and/or lotions from your underarms and breasts before your appointment.

Mammograms with breast implants

If you have breast implants your mammogram will require special positioning and additional mammographic views: usually four views of each breast, including one from above and one from the side and two displacement views. Because your implants make your mammograms harder to read, it’s particularly important that you examine your breasts each month, and get regular clinical physical examinations and digital screenings.

Understanding your mammogram results

A board-certified radiologist will carefully examine your mammogram or additional studies, before forwarding his or her findings to your provider. You’ll be notified of your results by mail. With digital mammography, radiologists are seeing more details than ever before, so it’s not uncommon to get called back for an additional look. Rest assured, the vast majority of breast abnormalities are not cancerous.

If you are diagnosed with cancer, however, you can turn to the South Sound’s leading cancer program for treatment. At the MultiCare Regional Cancer Center, a Nurse Navigator will help guide you through the complexity of a breast cancer diagnosis. From treatment information to side effects, your Nurse Navigator will work with you and the team of physicians who manage your care—every step of the way.

See all locations where mammograms are offered at locations for Breast Health Services.