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 American College of Radiology (ACR), the American Society of Breast Surgeons, Society of Breast Imaging, National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) 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.
At RCI Imaging Center, all screening mammograms are performed using 3D technology, or tomosynthesis. Instead of producing flat images, 3D mammography generates multiple image “slices,” reducing obstructions and allowing radiologists to view the breast in layers. It’s the most advanced technology available in breast cancer detection, with significant benefits for all women:
- Less patient anxiety and costs: when doctors detect abnormalities on standard mammogram images, they may recommend additional imaging. Being called back for additional imaging can be stressful. It may take additional time and lead to additional costs. 3D mammography reduces the need for follow-up imaging.
- Better detection and greater accuracy: studies indicate that 3D mammography can result in about one more breast cancer for every 1,000 women screened when compared with standard mammography alone.
- Improved image quality for all women: but especially those with dense breast tissue.
- Insurance coverage: most insurance plans are covering 3D screening mammograms. NOTE: We always encourage patients to check their individual benefits.
If you are experiencing a worrisome lump, changes in the breast skin, nipple discharge, or if you have a personal history of breast cancer, your physician should order a more comprehensive exam, called a diagnostic mammogram.
Breast experts agree that women aged 40+ should schedule screening mammogram appointments every 12 months.
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 weeks following 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
Screening mammography: Results of your screening mammography will be sent to you and your physician. 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.
Diagnostic mammography: 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, visit www.radiologyinfo.org.
RCI is accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR).
RCI Imaging Center
1948 First Avenue NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
Hours: Monday – Friday,
7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Toll Free: 800-747-0121
For billing and
RCI Business Services
1956 First Avenue NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
Hours: Monday – Friday
8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Toll Free: 800-747-9729
Radiology Consultants of Iowa
PO Box 338
Cedar Rapids, IA 52406