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Breast Health

What you Need to Know about Mammography and Your Report

Mammography is the most accurate method for early detection of breast cancer. You can improve your chances of early detection by following these guidelines:

  • Do a monthly breast self-exam (BSE)
  • Have a clinical exam conducted by a health care professional each year
  • Have an annual mammogram starting at age 40, or earlier, if there is a history of breast cancer in your immediate family
  • See your physician immediately if you notice any of the symptoms of breast disease
  • Discuss your risk of breast disease with your physician

What is Mammography?
A mammogram is a safe, low-dose x-ray of the breast. It is the best method for early detection of breast cancer. Mammograms can detect breast cancer long before symptoms appear.

St. Elizabeth Provides Digital Mammography
Digital Mammograms are images captured electronically. When completed the images are viewed on a computer screen and their magnification, brightness, and contrast can be enhanced. These features assist in tissue visibility. The digital technology allows for computer-aided detection to be included in the mammogram. Because the images can be viewed in 8-10 seconds, there is less waiting time for patients. Studies indicate digital mammography is more accurate in women younger than 50, in those with dense breasts, and in pre-menopausal and peri-menopausal women.

Types of Mammography?

  • Screening Mammograms are routine exams done on women who do not have any breast disease symptoms
  • Diagnostic Mammograms are ordered by a physician and performed on patients who have clinical symptoms, or when the screening mammogram has shown an abnormality

What Happens During the Exam?
A mammogram involves x-rays of each breast, one taken from the top and one from the side. During the exam, the breast is compressed between two plates for a few seconds. A MammoPad which is a soft foam cushion designed to enhance comfort between you and the mammography machine is used and does not interfere with images. The compression smoothes the breast tissue out to reduce wrinkling, as well as decreases the amount of radiation given to the breast. The technologist will take great care to make you as comfortable as possible.

Understanding Your Mammogram Report                                                                    

When will I receive my results?
You can wait for your results Monday – Friday from 7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. If you wait for your results and additional imaging is required, it can be done immediately.   

Why is the report sent to me?
Federal regulations require that written mammography reports must be sent to the patient by the interpreting physician within 30 days of the mammogram. A report of your mammogram will also be sent to your physician.

If my mammogram was normal, do I still need to have mammograms done in the future?
In a word,YES! It is wonderful news that your mammogram is normal, but please remember that in order to maintain good breast health, it is essential to continue having routine mammograms, at least once each year. Out motto is: same time, next year!

What if my mammogram was not normal?
Don't panic! Your report may say that your mammogram showed an area of irregularity. Your report will tell you what your next step should be.

Is there any chance I may need other types of testing after my mammogram?
A small percentage of women will receive a report saying that the mammogram showed an abnormality and that additional testing is needed to clarify the findings. The additional tests may be a more detailed (diagnostic) mammogram, an ultrasound, or MRI of the breast. In most cases, follow-up testing proves there is nothing to be concerned about. However, if follow-up testing is recommended, it is important to contact your physician immediately to set up your additional tests.

Breast Ultrasound also known as sonography, is used to evaluate breast problems that are found during a screening, diagnostic mammogram, or a physical exam. A handheld instrument, placed on the skin, transmits high-frequency sound waves through the breast. Echoes from the sound waves are picked up and translated by a computer into an image that is displayed on a computer screen. Ultrasound is a non-invasive method and you are not exposed to radiation during this test.

Breast MRI is a supplemental imaging tool to investigate possible malignancies that appear during physical exam, mammography, or ultrasound. St. Elizabeth was the first to have a 3 Tesla MRI in Nebraska. This scanner provides the highest quality imaging viewed by dedicated radiologists.

Breast MRI Offers Multiple Benefits:

  • Helps to detect growths hidden in dense breast tissue
  • Determines the extent and number of cancer growths
  • Effective tool for assessing tissue around breast implants
  • Guides biopsies and surgical treatments as needed

To find out if a Breast MRI would be appropriate for you, please talk with your physician.

Biopsy Services: A biopsy is done when other tests show you might have breast cancer. The only way to know for sure is for you to have a biopsy. During this test, cells from the area of concern are removed so they can be studied in the lab. Usually it takes a couple of days for your doctor to receive the test results. If it is not cancer, then no further treatment is needed. If it is cancer, the biopsy can help to tell the type of cancer you have and show whether it may be invasive. The biopsy services offered at Saint Elizabeth are stereotactic
biopsy, ultrasound-guided biopsy, MRI-guided biopsy, and surgical biopsy.

Symptoms of Breast Disease:

  • A lump or thickening
  • Newly inverted nipple
  • Swelling or redness
  • Nipple discharge
  • Scaly appearance to the nipple
  • Breast pain
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin

Risk Factors:

  • Risk of breast cancer increases with age
  • Personal and/or family history of breast cancer
  • Never had children or had first child after age 30
  • Long menstrual history (periods started early and ended late in life)

Always Remember...

Routine annual mammograms are necessary in detecting early breast cancer. It is also important that the radiologist compare the previous year’s mammogram to this year’s mammogram in order to detect any changes. Women must be their own best advocates and take responsibility for their health. A good way to do that is by committing to routine screening exams, such as PAP smears, mammograms and bone densitometry testing as recommended by your physician.

For your convenience, walk-in mammograms and bone density tests are available from 7 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. A physician’s order is required. Or, you can call St. Elizabeth CARE office at 402-219-7123 to schedule an appointment. Parking on the west side of the hospital is available for easy access to the Imaging Center.