About Breast Screening Exams & Mammography

Mammography is a breast cancer screening exam that uses low doses of X-rays to image the inside of the breast. Mammography is used to detect and diagnose breast disease both in women who have breast symptoms (such as a lump, pain or nipple discharge) and in women who are asymptomatic (have no breast complaints). Mammograms can often detect breast lumps before they can be felt.

The American Cancer Society recommends a yearly screening mammography for all women 40 years of age and older.

During a mammogram, the breast is compressed to spread the tissue apart and to allow a lower dose of X-ray. This procedure, which may be temporarily uncomfortable, is necessary in order to produce an accurate mammogram. The compression takes place for only a few seconds of the examination. The entire procedure for screening mammography takes about 20 minutes.

At the TMC for Women Breast Health Center, located across from TMC at 2100 N. Rosemont Suite 100, every woman is provided with the Mammo Pad breast cushion. This soft, foam pad creates a cushion between the patient and the mammography machine, and has no adverse effect on image quality. The patient can relax while visiting a certified Softer Mammogram Provider such as TMC, knowing that the mammogram will be warm and comfortable.

In addition, the center provides the latest technologic advances in breast cancer screening to help reduce total time between check-in and departure. Digital imaging allows the radiologist to electronically analyze the information, and to provide electronic enhancements that can actually improve the interpretive process. Digital mammography offers several advantages over conventional film mammography, including:

  • Higher detection rate of breast cancer in women under 50, pre- and peri-menopausal women, and women with dense breast tissue
  • Reduced need to retake pictures
  • Shorter wait time for results

Different kinds of mammography include:

Screening Mammography

Two views of each breast for women who have no current symptoms or breast cancer or implants. Most insurance covers one exam per year.

Diagnostic Mammography

This exam, which involves a minimum of three views of each breast, is for women who are having a breast problem such as lump, thickening, or nipple discharge; or who have had a history of breast cancer or currently have breast implants. An order from your health care provider is required for a diagnostic exam.

Additional Views

These are projections that are requested by the radiologist after the initial exam has been read. These may consist of special compression views, magnification views, or specific views indicated by the radiologist.

Stereotactic Breast Biopsy

This test examines a lesion seen on a mammogram. It requires lying on table with the breast compressed. Images are taken on a computer to help guide insertion of a biopsy needle, which extracts small samples of the area. This sample is sent to pathology for analysis. Results are usually available in 48 hours. The patient may experience some bruising and soreness after the biopsy but can resume normal activity the next day.

Needle Localization

This procedure is done before surgery when an abnormal area (as seen on a mammogram) needs to be removed surgically. The area is localized using the stereotactic table and a wire and blue dye are placed in the abnormal area to mark it for the surgeon. The wire and dye act as a guide to the abnormal area during surgery and allow the surgeon to take an accurate sample of the tissue.

Breast Ultrasound

This procedure is done when the patient has a palpable area in the breast, or when another abnormality is seen on the mammogram. The breast is imaged using ultrasound waves to view the area of interest.


A thin, blunt needle is placed in a nipple duct that is having some type of discharge, generally bloody. X-ray dye is injected into this duct and mammograms are taken to see if there is a blockage within the duct.