What is a mammogram?

Stacy Contreras
Body Imaging
A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast used to look for signs of breast cancer. Stacy Contreras, director at Good Samaritan Hospital’s Breast Care Center, discusses how mammograms are part of an annual exam, but may also be performed if you find a lump in your breast.
A mammogram is a specialized x-ray of your breasts from various angles. Although it doesn't usually hurt, a mammogram can be uncomfortable or embarrassing. A healthcare professional moves and flattens your breasts (breast compression) on the x-ray machine so it is in the best position for taking x-ray images. The entire procedure typically takes less than 15 minutes.

The value of mammography is that it can identify potentially cancerous breast abnormalities at an early stage before they can be felt. While mammograms can detect a breast lump up to two years before it can be felt during a physical examination, they can miss up to 20% of breast cancers.
A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray used to routinely evaluate a woman's breast health. It helps doctors see whether there are any abnormalities or changes in the breast tissue that may need to be further explored. It is a screening tool, and it is also a diagnostic tool for investigating lumps or changes. 
A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the inside of the breast. It can be done as a routine screening test or to help pinpoint the cause of breast cancer symptoms (nipple discharge, lump, skin changes).

Mammography is currently the best screening tool we have for breast cancer. A mammogram can find cancer at a very early stage -- long before a lump would be felt during an exam by you or your doctor. When cancer is found very early, the chance for a cure is much better.

There are no known significant risks from mammograms when guidelines are followed. The dose of radiation is low, and the test will not damage breast tissue.
A mammogram is a specific type of x-ray imaging that uses low-dose radiation to examine the breasts in order to identify breast cancer or abnormalities in individuals with or without symptoms. It plays an important role in the early detection of breast cancer because it can show changes in the breast up to two years before you or your doctor can feel them. After the initial screening mammogram, there are additional types of mammograms that a radiologist can use for more detailed views, including digital mammography.

A mammogram is an x-ray image of the breast. Mammography is the procedure used to generate a mammogram. The equipment used to obtain a mammogram, however, is very different from that used to perform an x-ray of your chest or bones. The breast is composed of tissues that are similar to each other in density. Changes or abnormalities in your breast tissue are often very subtle. Therefore, the mammogram machines, film, and developing process are specially designed to take pictures of these subtle differences.
Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgery
A mammogram or mammography or is an X-ray exam of the breast. This exam is extremely important for detecting and evaluating the breast for any type of abnormalities. Doctors recommend mammograms both for screening purposes, when patients have no symptoms or complaints, and diagnostic purposes, when patients do have symptoms or complaints. These symptoms can include a lump, discharge from the nipple, or increased pain localized along the breast.
The Beverly Hills Shape: The Truth About Plastic Surgery

More About this Book

The Beverly Hills Shape: The Truth About Plastic Surgery

Dr. Stuart Linder, Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, specializes in body sculpting procedures in the heart of Beverly Hills, California. Dr. Linder has trained in both general...

Mammograms are used for both screening and diagnosis.

A screening mammogram is used to find breast changes in women who have no signs of breast cancer. Most women get two x-rays of each breast.

If your screening mammogram shows a breast change since your last one, or if you or your health care provider notices a change, you may need to have a diagnostic mammogram. That means more x-rays are taken to get clearer, more detailed pictures of the breast.

A digital mammogram is another way to take a picture of your breasts. The procedure for having a digital mammogram is the same as for a screening mammogram, except that it records the x-ray images in computer code instead of on x-ray film.

This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.

Continue Learning about Women's Health

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.