Fully Digital Mammography

Whether it is your first time, or your twenty-first time, mammograms can be intimidating.

What if they find something? What providers in our region offer the most comprehensive breast care services? Trust your care to the leaders of the region.

Establish your breast care at Penn State Hershey:

  • Dedicated breast radiologists and surgeons
  • Multi-disciplinary team meetings to ensure individualized treatment plans incorporating the knowledge of experienced breast specialists
  • Genetic counseling for high-risk patients
  • Access to clinical trials and protocols on new cancer treatments
  • Easy, convenient locations on both the East and West Shore

Mammograms are special low dose X-ray examinations of the breast that are designed to aid in the detection of breast disease. We use full field digital mammography with computer aided detection (CAD) which acts as a double reading of your mammogram. Some studies have shown the use of CAD to increase the early detection of cancer. Digital mammography has been proven to be more sensitive in cancer detection for younger women, pre and perimenopausal women and women at higher risk for breast cancer. 

3D mammography or Digital Breast Tomosynthesis is available and routinely used in screening and diagnostic mammography.

Screening Mammography
A screening mammogram is an x-ray of the breast used to detect breast changes in women who have no signs or symptoms. It is responsible for the early detection of breast cancer, in many women up to two years prior to when it could be detected by the woman or her physicians. The regular use of screening mammograms has been credited with reducing the mortality from breast cancer up to 40%.

Diagnostic Mammography
A diagnostic mammogram is an x-ray of the breast that is used to check for breast cancer after a lump or other sign or symptom has been found. This is a problem solving mammogram. Signs of breast cancer may include pain, skin thickening or redness, nipple discharge, or a change in breast size or shape. A diagnostic mammogram also may be used to evaluate changes found during a screening mammogram, or to view breast tissue when screening mammograms are difficult because of special circumstances, such as the presence of breast implants. A diagnostic mammogram takes longer than a screening mammogram because it involves more x-rays in order to obtain views of the breast from several angles. The technologist may magnify a suspicious area to produce a detailed picture that can help the doctor make an accurate

How often should a woman have a mammogram?
Women age 40 and over should have mammograms every year. Women who are at higher than average risk of breast cancer should talk with their health care providers about whether to have mammograms before age 40 and how often to have them.

Mammogram Preparation

  • There is no reason to fast before a mammogram however; in some women caffeine-containing products could make the breasts more tender. Women who are sensitive to caffeine should stop caffeine consumption for 2 weeks before the test.
  • Menstrual cycle phase does not affect the quality of the images; however it is better to perform a mammogram when a woman's breasts are not painful. A woman may find it more comfortable to have a mammogram 1-2 weeks after the start of her period (day 5-14 of the cycle) .
  • Wear two-piece clothing, such as pants and a top, to simplify undressing for the mammogram.
  • The day of the exam, avoid applying deodorant, powder, lotions or cream.
  • If you have had previous mammograms at another facility it is important to bring those images along to your appointment for comparison. You can request your images be sent from the other medical center prior to your appointment.

What can I expect during the exam?

When you have a mammogram, your breast is compressed between an x-ray plate and a plastic plate. Both plates are attached to the mammogram machine. Your breasts need to be compressed to spread the tissue apart. This ensures that there will be very little movement, that the image will be sharper, and that the exam can be done with a lower x-ray dose. Compression can be uncomfortable, but it is rarely painful and it only lasts for a few seconds, however it is needed to produce a good mammogram image. The entire procedure for a mammogram takes about 20 minutes. A screening mammogram usually takes 2 x-ray pictures (views) of each breast. Some patients may need to have more pictures to include as much breast tissue as possible. 
We use a MammoPad, a soft foam cushion that provides women with a softer, warmer and more comfortable mammogram.