Mammography at RCI
What is mammography?
A mammogram is a special low-dose x-ray of the breast. A physician called a radiologist uses the images to detect breast cancer, ideally as early as two years before a lump can be felt. Mammograms also make it possible to detect tiny calcium deposits, or microcalcifications, that can sometimes indicate the presence of cancer.
Current guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the American Cancer Society (ACS), the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) recommend a screening mammogram every year for women, beginning at age 40.
Mammography is the only screening method that is consistently proven to reduce breast cancer deaths. In fact, it is the major reason breast cancer deaths have declined by 30% since 1990, when screening guidelines were enforced in the U.S. In addition, early detection through mammography gives women more treatment options with reduced surgery, better cosmetic outcomes, and often eliminating the need for harsh therapies. And since breast cancer found in women under age 50 is often more aggressive, it’s imperative to schedule your mammogram every 12 months.
If performed annually as recommended, screening mammography is the key to detecting breast cancer early and saving lives. Women 40 years of age and older with no symptoms of breast disease should schedule their screening mammogram appointments annually. If you are experiencing a worrisome lump, changes in the breast skin or nipple discharge, your physician should order a more comprehensive exam called a diagnostic mammogram.
While a screening mammogram is encouraged each year for women who do not have significant breast symptoms, your doctor may order a diagnostic mammogram if you are experiencing a worrisome lump, changes in the breast skin, pain, nipple discharge or if you have a personal history of breast cancer. Diagnostic mammography may also be performed if your screening mammogram demonstrates a possible abnormality. The type and number of mammographic views taken will be customized to your situation.
How do I make an appointment for a mammogram at RCI?
It’s easy to find exceptional mammogram services right here in Cedar Rapids. Just ask your primary care physician for a referral to RCI, or call for an appointment at 319-364-0121.
If you have had a previous mammogram at a facility other than RCI Imaging Center in Cedar Rapids, please let us know so that we may obtain these films. It is extremely important for the radiologist to have your prior films for comparison, as it enhances the doctor's ability to detect a subtle change or small abnormality on your current mammogram. Availability of prior films at your appointment also decreases the length of time it takes for you to get your results.
How should I prepare for my mammogram at RCI?
Prior to your appointment, please let us know about any previous mammograms performed at a facility other than RCI. It is extremely important for the radiologist to have your prior films for comparison, as it enhances the doctor's ability to detect a subtle change or small abnormality on your current mammogram. Availability of prior films at your appointment also decreases the length of time it takes for you to get your results.
On the day of the examination, do not wear talcum powder, deodorant, lotion or perfume under your arms or on your breasts. These substances can cause artifacts on your mammogram, making the images harder to interpret. Deodorant towelettes will be available to you after your exam.
- Wear two-piece clothing so that you only have to remove your top and bra for the examination
- To help minimize discomfort during your exam, schedule your mammogram during the
2 weeksfollowing your menstrual cycle (when breasts are less tender)
- Please bring any pertinent history to your appointment: Prior surgeries, hormone use, family or personal history of breast cancer
- If you are breastfeeding, it is best to schedule your mammogram at least 3 months after you have stopped nursing
What can I expect?
Your mammogram will be performed by a mammography-certified, female technologist. After you check in, you will be escorted to a private dressing room, where you will be asked to undress from the waist up. You will be given a gown that opens in the front. The technologist will ask you several questions so she can better understand your history and/or any problems you may be having.
The mammography technologist will then instruct you while they place your breast in the best position to achieve maximum results for your exam. Typically 2 views of each breast will be taken. This is done by compressing the breast between two plates on the machine. Compression spreads apart the tissue to give the radiologist a better image of the anatomical structures within the breast. The compression will last only a few seconds during the exposure, and then will be automatically released.
After your mammogram at RCI
Results of your screening mammography will be sent to you and your physician within 2 weeks. If you are called back for additional mammographic views, do not be alarmed. Often, more views are needed in order to make an accurate diagnosis. If this is the case, a member of our staff will contact you personally to discuss the recommended next step. This is called a diagnostic mammogram.
RCI’s breast center is staffed by a radiologist focused solely on mammography and the accurate detection of breast cancer. At the time of your callback visit, the radiologist will review your exam results with you and explain any further recommendations. Your primary care physician will also receive the results of your exam.
Please contact us if for some reason you have not gotten the results of your mammogram.
For more information on this and other radiology procedures, please visit www.radiologyinfo.org.
RCI is accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR).