A mammogram is an x-ray examination of the breast. It is used to detect breast disease in women who either have breast problems such as a lump, pain, or nipple discharge, and for women who have no breast complaints.
Mammography cannot prove that an abnormal area is cancer, but if it raises a significant suspicion of cancer, tissue will be removed for a biopsy. Tissue may be removed by needle or open surgical biopsy and examined under a microscope to determine if it is cancer.
Mammography has been used for about 40 years, and in the past 15 years technical advancements have improved both the technique and results. Today, dedicated equipment, used only for breast x-rays, produces studies that are high in quality but low in radiation dose. Radiation risks are considered to be negligible.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital breast imaging specialists are now using 3D mammography. Digital 3D mammography is also used in follow-up exams when there has been a suspicious finding on a previous mammogram. 3D mammography is currently offered at the Lee Bell Center for Breast Imaging.
Why Get a Mammogram?
Screening mammography saves lives and is covered by all insurances. Mammograms can find breast cancer early when it has the best chance of being cured. Watch these videos in English, Spanish or Portuguese and find out what happens when you come to Brigham and Women’s Hospital for a screening.