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What is a mammogram?
When is mammography used?
How do I prepare?
What can I expect?
Breast Health Specialist: An additional resource
Computer-Aided Detection
When can I expect results?
How do I schedule an appointment?
Where can I get additional information?

Learn more about

Trinity's mammography campaign.

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast tissue. The mammogram uses low-dose x-ray to produce black and white images of the internal structures of the breast. These images help physicians screen for and diagnose abnormalities of the breast.

There are two types of mammograms-a screening mammogram and a diagnostic mammogram. In a screening mammogram, breasts that appear normal are checked for abnormality. A diagnostic mammogram involves additional views of the breast, which help physicians diagnose changes such as:

  • a lump
  • thickening
  • swelling
  • discharge
  • pain
  • retraction or bulging of the skin

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When is mammography used?

Women should work closely with their physician to determine the screening schedule that is right for them. Advocate's mammogram guidelines are as follows:

Family history of pre-menopausal breast cancer
Women with a strong family history of pre-menopausal breast cancer should begin getting a yearly mammogram at an age 10 years younger than when a mother or sister was diagnosed.

Under 50
Women under 50 without a strong history of breast cancer in their family are advised to take a shared decision-making approach. A woman and her doctor, based on identified risk factors, decide on the proper schedule of screening mammograms. Typically this would be every 1-2 years beginning at age 40.

Over 50
A screening mammogram every 1-2 years is recommended for women over 50.

In addition, Advocate Health Care urges women to use a three-step method to screen for breast cancer. The three-step method includes practicing monthly self-breast exams, having a physician exam 1-2 times a year and a mammogram once a year after the age of 40. Used in combination, these three steps raise the detection rate of breast cancer to 96%.

Guidelines of other organizations

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How do I prepare?

Mammography is most comfortable when scheduled seven to ten days after the first day of your monthly period. You can minimize discomfort by eliminating caffeine-such as coffee, tea, sodas and chocolate-from your diet several days prior to your mammogram. You may also consult with your physician about the potential benefits of taking ibuprofen an hour before the mammogram.

On the day of your exam, do not wear any powder, deodorant, lotion or perfume as these may contain small metal particles that can interfere with the quality of the image taken. It is also helpful to wear a two-piece outfit such as a blouse and pants so that you will only have to undress from the waist up.

Remember to bring your physician prescription, picture I.D. and your insurance card. If you have had a previous mammogram at another location, you should also bring these films with you. Previous mammogram films are important because they allow the radiologist to make comparisons and determine if subtle changes, that would otherwise possibly go undetected, have occurred. They may also prevent the need for further testing such as ultrasound or biopsy. Be sure to contact the facility where the mammogram was performed well in advance of your appointment with us, so you can arrange to pick up or have original films mailed to you.

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What can I expect?

You will be asked to undress from the waist up in a private dressing area, and put on an examination gown. When you are ready, a specially trained mammography technician will position one of your breasts within the mammography imaging unit. The unit will gently compress the breast to flatten breast tissue so an image can be made. You will feel some pressure for a few seconds during compression, though most women report little or no discomfort. Two x-rays-one from the top and one from the side-will be taken of each breast. The entire process usually takes less than 20 minutes to complete.

A diagnostic mammogram involves additional views, which focus on the problem area.

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Computer-Aided Detection (CAD)

Advocate Trinity Hospital uses a technology called computer-aided detection (CAD) for mammography. First a radioloigst looks at your test. Then CAD takes a second look. By providing physicians with this extra tool, we can improve detection of breast cancer.

When can I expect results?

A radiologist, a physician with special training in reading x-rays, will interpret your mammogram. If the radiologist determines a biopsy is necessary for further evaluation of the breast tissue, you will be notified directly following your mammogram. A report will be sent to your physician within three to fives days of your mammogram, and a summary of your results will be sent to your home address within seven to ten days.

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How do I schedule a mammogram?

To schedule a screening mammogram, call us at 773.967.1000 to arrange a time that is convenient for you.

Trinity also offers routine mammograms with no appointment needed on Thursdays. Just come in between 8 a.m.- 4 p.m., any Thursday.

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Where can I get additional information?

For your convenience, Advocate Health Care has created a breast health web site with frequently asked questions about breast cancer, information about support groups, links to additional resources and more. Click here for information.

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