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Procedures

Mammography

Know the Basics

Mammography uses computers and specially designed digital detectors to produce detailed X-ray images of breast tissue. The purpose of mammography is to identify breast cancer early in its development when it is still very small, often years before it is large enough to be felt as a lump. Small cancers often require less aggressive treatment and have the best chance for long term survival.

While mammography often detects breast cancer in its earliest stages, approximately 10% of palpable breast lumps that may be cancerous are not detected on mammography. In these cases, annual breast examination by your doctor or healthcare provider and monthly breast self-examination are critical for early detection.

Do I need a Mammogram?

The American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology have developed guidelines shown in the table below. Over 90% of breast cancers can be detected when all three methods are used together in a planned program. The following recommendations are for women who are considered average risk for developing breast cancer.

Age Breast Self-Exam Mammography Physical Exam
20-40 Once a month, 7-10 days after onset of menstruation Initial mammogram at age 40 At least every 3 years
40+ Once a month, 7-10 days after onset of menstruation Every year Every year

What should I expect?

  • Expect to spend 45 minutes to an hour at the facility to complete the entire process.
  • Please do not wear deodorant, lotion, powder, or perfume under your arms or on your breasts the day of the procedure.
  • Prior to your exam you will be asked to undress from the waist up. A gown will be provided for your comfort. It is best if you wear shorts, pants, or a skirt to your appointment so that you can easily undress from the waist up.
  • The mammography technologist will interview you and review your medical history.
  • The technologist will visually inspect your breasts for any skin changes or puckering. They may also place markers on your skin showing where moles and/or surgical scars are located.
  • The technologist will manually place your breast in the machine for each image to ensure proper positioning while also coaching you for body placement to ensure you are as comfortable as possible.
  • There are 4 standard images that will be obtained: 2 of each breast. Additional images may be necessary in the event that the image quality was not optimal, if you have breast implants, or if the entire breast cannot be seen on a single image.
  • For each image the breast will be compressed between two plates in order to obtain the best possible image.
  • The amount of compression is the same for both 2D and 3D mammograms. The time in compression is slightly longer for the 3D mammogram.
  • Breast compression is necessary to obtain the best possible images while exposing patients to the smallest possible amount of radiation.

For your safety and the protection of others, we do not allow anyone other than patients in our exam rooms.

Are mammograms really necessary?

Will the mammogram hurt?

Truthfully? Possibly yes… people have varying degrees of discomfort and/or pain associated with their mammogram. Women describe their experience with mammogram compression anywhere from slight discomfort to painful. This is based on multiple factors. First, everyone experiences pain differently so it is hard to predict each individual woman’s level of pain and/or discomfort. Additionally some women tend to have more tender breasts. If you tend to have more sensitive/painful breasts, the mammogram might be more uncomfortable for you. If you fit in this category, we recommend scheduling your mammogram for the week following your menstrual cycle. Hormone stimulation of the breast tissue is a very common cause of breast pain and discomfort. The week following your menstrual cycle is when the hormonal stimulation of the breast tissue is at its lowest point so the amount of discomfort you experience during the mammogram should be at its lowest point as well.

What is the difference between a screening and diagnostic mammogram?

The purpose of the screening mammogram is to detect breast cancer at its earliest stage before the patient has any symptoms of breast cancer when the cancer is most treatable.

There are multiple breast symptoms that may be related to breast cancer. A diagnostic mammogram will be requested by your primary care provider in order for the breast imaging radiologist to determine if cancer is the cause of the breast symptoms. Symptoms may include a lump in the breast, skin and/or nipple changes, nipple discharge, and occasionally focal breast pain. The diagnostic mammogram is a more detailed mammogram examination where additional images beyond what are obtained in the screening mammogram are performed to best evaluate the breast symptoms. Breast ultrasound often accompanies a mammogram examination to thoroughly evaluate your breast symptoms.

A diagnostic mammogram is also performed to further evaluate possible abnormalities noted on the screening mammogram. The abnormalities seen on screening mammograms are often not related to cancer, but do require additional mammogram images and possible breast ultrasound to make that determination.

Most diagnostic mammograms are reviewed by the breast imaging radiologist while you are still at the facility in case additional imaging is required to fully evaluate your breast.

How do I get the results?

After your study, the images will be evaluated by one of our board-certified radiologists with expertise in breast imaging. A final report will be sent to your doctor or healthcare provider, who can then discuss the results with you in detail.

A brief letter will also be sent to your home informing you if your mammogram was normal or abnormal. If abnormal you will be contacted by our facility to return for a diagnostic mammogram and/or breast ultrasound to further evaluate the abnormality.

Reports are also available on Radiology Ltd.’s new patient portal

Reports are also available on the MyRAD Patient Portal

Breast Imaging Team

Matthew L. Bell, M.D.

  • Specialties:
    Breast Imaging, General Radiology
  • Education:
    B.S. – University of California at Irvine, 1996
    M.D. – Medical College of Wisconsin, 2001
  • Internship:
    Transitional, Aurora Health Care/St. Luke’s Medical Center (Milwaukee), 2002-2003
  • Residency:
    Diagnostic Radiology, Aurora Health Care/St. Luke’s Medical Center (Milwaukee), 2003-2007
  • Fellowship:
    Cross-Sectional Imaging, University of Arizona, 2007-2008
  • Board Certifications:
    ABR 2007

With Radiology Ltd. since 2008

Marcus J. Dill-Macky, M.D.

  • Specialties:
    Breast Imaging, General Radiology
  • Education:
    M.B.B.S. – University of Western Australia, 1988
    M.D., 2006
  • Internship:
    Transitional, Royal Perth Hospital (Australia), 1988
  • Residency:
    Diagnostic Radiology, Western Australia Radiology Training Scheme, 1993-1998
  • Fellowship:
    Body Imaging, University of Toronto, 1998-1999; MRI, Monash Medical Centre (Melbourne, Australia), 1999
  • Board Certifications:
    MRCP 1992; FRANZCR 1998; RCPSC 2006; ABR 2006

Assistant Professor in Medical Imaging, University Health Network and the Mount Sinai Hospital (Toronto), 2002-2007
With Radiology Ltd. since 2007

Christine N. Eppelheimer, M.D.

  • Specialties:
    Breast Imaging, General Radiology
  • Education:
    B.S. - University of Arizona, 2006
    M.D. - University of Arizona, 2010
  • Internship:
    Internal Medicine, Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center (Phoenix), 2010-11
  • Residency:
    Diagnostic Radiology, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center (Phoenix), 2011-14; Mt. Sinai Beth Israel (New York), 2014-15
  • Fellowship:
    Body and Breast Imaging, North Shore University Hospital (Manhasset, NY), 2015-16
  • Board Certifications:
    ABR 2014

Robert F. Rauch, II, M.D.

  • Specialties:
    Breast Imaging, General Radiology, Interventional Radiology
  • Education:
    B.A. – Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois), 1974
    M.D. – Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland), 1978
  • Internship:
    Internal Medicine, Good Samaritan Hospital (Phoenix), 1978-1979
  • Residency:
    Diagnostic Radiology, University of California at San Francisco, 1979-1982
  • Fellowship:
    Ultrasound/CT, Duke University, 1982-1983
  • Board Certifications:
    ABR 1982; CAQ Interventional Radiology 1997, 2007

With Radiology Ltd. since 1984

Paul R. Strautman, M.D.

  • Specialties:
    Breast Imaging, General Radiology, Pediatric Radiology
  • Education:
    B.S. – University of Arizona, 1978
    M.D. – University of Arizona, 1985
  • Internship:
    Transitional, Good Samaritan Medical Center (Phoenix), 1985-1986
  • Residency:
    Diagnostic Radiology, University of Arizona, 1986-1990
  • Fellowship:
    Interventional Radiology, Brown University, 1990-1991
  • Board Certifications:
    ABR 1990

With Radiology Ltd. since 2010

Danielle M. Carroll, M.D.

  • Specialties:
    Breast Imaging, General Radiology
  • Education:
    B.S. University of Arizona, 1997
    M.D. University of Arizona, 2007
  • Internship:
    Tucson Hospital Medical Education Program, 2007-2008
  • Residency:
    Diagnostic Radiology, University of Arizona, 2008-2012
  • Fellowship:
    Breast Imaging, University of Arizona, 2012-2013
  • Board Certifications:
    ABR 2012

Meet Brenda, Tucson mother

Because breast cancer runs in her family, Brenda never misses her yearly mammogram. The best tool to detect breast cancer is the annual screening mammogram, and early detection of breast cancer offers the greatest chance of survival. Radiology Ltd. in Tucson stands firmly behind its recommendations of annual mammography starting at age 40 to ensure the maximum benefit from screening mammography. Screening mammograms are easy, quick and life-saving.