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What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of the breast used to detect breast disease. Using high-contrast, high-resolution film, a mammogram can show changes in the breast up to two years before those changes can be felt. Even if a woman has no symptoms, a screening mammogram can assist a physician in disease detection.

A mammogram will take approximately 15 minutes. During a mammogram, the breast is squeezed between two plates for a few seconds while the x-ray is taken. X-rays of each breast are made from different angles so the breast tissue can be fully examined. While the breast is being compressed, a patient may experience slight discomfort, but usually not pain. If pain occurs during the mammogram, a patient should tell the technologist.

Patients at 'Ohana will also learn how to perform monthly breast self-exams.

Preparing for your mammogram

  • Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms the day of the exam.
  • Describe any symptoms or problems to the technologist before the exam.
  • You will be asked to remove all jewelry and clothing from the waist up, and will be given a loose-fitting gown that opens in the front.
  • Small children must be attended by an adult while the patient is receiving diagnostic services.

After your mammogram

A radiologist specially educated in mammography will study your mammograms and send a written report to your doctor. In most cases, your doctor will have the written report within two working days and will inform you of the results of your mammogram. You will also receive written results of your exam.

You may be asked to return to 'Ohana for additional x-rays and/or ultrasound. This does not always mean an abnormality was found. Often the radiologist sees an area that requires additional or special x-rays for a more complete evaluation. If you have any questions, please call your doctor.

'Ohana Mammography Center

'Ohana, a word found in both Japanese and Hawaiian cultures, was chosen as the name for our Mammography Center to honor the women of our community and represents the "extended family" of Yakima Valley Memorial's breast health services.

At 'Ohana, we offer a supportive and caring environment along with the most advanced digital technology available. 3D (breast tomosynthesis) mammography allows us to provide our patients with the highest quality of care in the prevention and early detection of breast cancer.

Early detection remains a woman's best defense in the battle against breast cancer. Like all cancers, breast cancer develops when abnormal cells in the body change and grow out of control. When problematic breast tissue cells are diagnosed early, the prognosis for cure is extremely high.

Although mammography is the foundation of 'Ohana's services, additional diagnostic and support services are offered in the same beautiful facility. 'Ohana offers a communication link for women to access doctors, diagnosticians, counselors, and other health professionals regarding their breast health.

Our services

  • Tomosynthesis: 3D mammography (breast tomosynthesis) is an exciting advancement in breast cancer screening shown in clinical studies to be better than conventional 2D mammography alone. It shows breast tissue in thin layers, like pages in a book, helping doctors dismiss falsely suspicious areas and find breast cancer earlier.
  • Screening mammography.
  • Cyst aspiration.
  • Breast health education.
  • Ductography.
  • Financial counseling.
  • Diagnostic breast ultrasound.
  • Core biopsy.
  • Breast care coordination.

Guidelines for early detection

Studies show that a woman's best defense against breast cancer is a monthly breast self-exam. Pick a day each month, maybe the day of your birthday, and take the time to perform your breast self-exam.

To ensure the best protection against breast cancer:

  • Perform regular breast self-exams (beginning at age 20) so you know the normal feel of your breasts and know how to recognize changes.
  • Discuss your risk for breast cancer with your doctor to decide when to start regular mammograms or read about current breast screening guidelines.

Breast screening guidelines

National organizations that publish guidelines about breast cancer screening have different recommendations depending on age and risk factors, so it is important for you to discuss the best screening option with your doctor.

Around age 40, you should talk to your doctor about when to begin mammograms. Women age 50 and older should have a screening mammogram at least every other year—and more often for women whose risk for breast cancer is greater.

For women of average risk*, the American Cancer Society recommends that between the ages of 45 to 54 have an annual screening. At age 55, women can choose to change the frequency to every other year. Alternatively, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends starting mammograms when women reach age 50; and, at that age, the task force recommends mammograms every other year. A summary of expert recommendations is listed below:

  • Organization: American Cancer Society
    Minimum age to start: 40 (individual choice)
    How often: 45 to 54 (every year)

  • Organization: The American Society of Breast Imaging
    Minimum age to start: 40 (Individual choice)
    How often: 55+ (every 1 to 2 years)

  • Organization: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
    Minimum age to start: 40 (individual choice)
    How often: 50 to 74 (every 2 years)

  • Organization: American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
    Minimum age to start: 40
    How often: Every year

  • Organization: American College of Radiology
    Minimum age to start: 40
    How often: Every year

  • Organization: The Society of Breast Imaging
    Minimum age to start: 40
    How often: Every year

  • Organization: National Comprehensive Cancer Network
    Minimum age to start: 40
    How often: Every year

*Patients with a family history or other increased risk factors should consult with their primary care physician regarding recommendations for screening.

If, at any time or age, you detect a lump or notice a change in your breast health, you should contact your healthcare provider.