1 in 8 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. With early detection through mammograms and self-examination, breast cancer and other breast diseases may be successfully treated. Make your appointment for a mammogram and take the first step in a life-long breast health program.
Alaska Regional Hospital offers digital mammography, which uses computers instead of x-ray film to help examine breast tissue for breast cancer.
Why get a mammogram?
The risk of breast cancer increases with age. The American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms beginning at age 40. Many experts believe it is the most effective way to detect breast cancer when no symptoms exist. The accuracy rate for mammography is more than 90% when used in combination with a physical exam. Mammography can detect a cancer up to two years before it can be felt, when the rate of cure approaches 100%.
What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is a safe, low dose of X-ray that is able to detect irregularities. There are two types of mammograms. Screening mammograms are routine tests for women who show no breast disease symptoms. A diagnostic mammogram is done for women who exhibit signs of breast disease, have had cancer previously or who have breast implants. In a diagnostic mammogram, different views are taken to get more accurate information. In some instances an ultrasound scan is also taken to clarify findings. For most women, these additional studies simply prove that there is no cause for concern.
How do I prepare for a mammogram?
- Schedule the test for one week after your period, when your breasts are less tender.
- Make sure your clinic gets your last mammogram if it was done somewhere else. This lets the doctor compare the two.
- On the morning of your test, wash your breasts and underarms, but don't use deodorant, powder, or perfume.
- Please notify us if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Wear a blouse that you can remove easily.
What should I expect during the mammogram?
You will be asked to undress from the waist up and will be given a gown to wear. One breast at a time will be rested on a flat surface that contains the x-ray plate. Compression will be applied to help spread the breast tissue to enable it to be better visualized. This compression should be snug, but not painful.
The x-ray pictures will be taken from a couple of angles to visualize all of the breast tissue. You may be asked to hold your breath as each picture is taken.
More x-rays are sometimes needed. You'll be called to schedule them. Radiologists will read your mammogram and you will be notified of the test results.
Have mammograms as often as your healthcare provider recommends. Also be sure to do regular breast self-exams.
To schedule an appointment, please call 855-226-9105 (toll free).
Read more about Diagnostic Imaging at Alaska Regional Hospital.
Read more about Breast Density and how it affects your breast health.
Notice to Patients regarding ACR Accreditation