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MammographyScreening or routine mammography is performed by a technologist that is specially trained in breast imaging.  The examination is performed on patients with no symptoms of breast cancer and is primarily done for the early detection of breast cancer.

Diagnostic mammography is performed to evaluate and detect abnormalities in the breast tissue and glands.

Diagnostic mammography includes examinations required as a follow-up to a screening or routine mammogram where a possible abnormality has been detected on the images. 

The initial screening or routine mammogram requires two images of each breast, one from the top and one from the side. The breast is placed on a platform and compressed with a plastic paddle during the examination. Compression is necessary to:
  • Obtain a high quality image since is flattens the breast so that all breast tissue is close to the same thickness
  • Even out the breast tissue so that structures do not overlap
  • Reduce radiation exposure
  • Prevent motion that could blur the image

The examination can be uncomfortable due to the compression of the breast but should not be painful. If your breasts are tender before your period you should try to schedule your appointment at a time when your breasts are less sensitive. The procedure takes approximately ten to fifteen minutes. 

Your images will be viewed before you leave the department. In some cases additional images may need to be taken. Don’t panic. Fifteen to 20 per cent of patients will require additional imaging. The majority of patients who require additional imaging will receive a normal report. Additional tests such as ultrasound, MRI, core biopsy, etc. may also be required before a final diagnosis is provided to your doctor.


Updated May 9, 2019