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Call to request a mammogram
What is breast tomosynthesis?
Massachusetts General Hospital Imaging provides mammography using the latest technology on our main campus in Boston and at our imaging locations in Waltham and Revere.
You can schedule a screening mammogram without a referral by calling a location directly or requesting an appointment online.
Pioneered at Mass General, breast tomosynthesis is a breakthrough in mammography that can offer better cancer detection, fewer call backs and greater peace of mind.
At Mass General Imaging, breast tomosynthesis plus digital mammography is standard protocol for all screening mammograms, and every mammogram is read by a specialty-trained breast radiologist.
A mammogram is an X-ray performed by a trained professional called a mammographer who properly positions and compresses the breasts (crucial for high-quality images) and checks the images immediately for quality. It is performed both as a screening test and as a diagnostic exam.
Mammography in Depth
What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is a special type of X-ray that is tuned to detect breast abnormalities. It is used to detect and evaluate breast abnormalities, both in women who have no breast complaints or symptoms, and in women who have breast symptoms (problems such as a lump, pain, or nipple discharge).
All screening mammograms at Mass General Imaging use breast tomosynthesis, which takes multiple images of the entire breast. It is performed with conventional digital mammography using the same scanner.
Computer Aided Detection (CAD) can be applied to mammography exams to help radiologists identify and mark regions of interest that are potentially indicative of cancer. Mass General Imaging utilizes CAD in all of its mammography locations.
Screening mammogram vs. diagnostic mammogram
A screening mammogram is an exam used to detect early breast cancer in women experiencing no symptoms. Mammography plays a central part in early detection of breast cancers because it can show changes in the breast up to two years before you or your physician can feel them. Current guidelines recommend screening mammography every year beginning at age 40. In addition, women who have had breast cancer and those who are at increased risk due to a genetic history of breast cancer should seek expert medical advice about whether they should begin screening before age 40 and about the frequency of screening.
Diagnostic mammography is used to evaluate a patient with abnormal clinical findings, such as a breast lump or lumps that have been found by the woman or her doctor. Diagnostic mammography may also be done after an abnormal screening mammogram in order to determine the cause of the area of concern on the screening exam.
Safety and mammograms
Patient safety is our top priority. We pay special attention to using the lowest radiation dose during an exam to produce the best images for evaluation. As part of this commitment, we invest in the latest equipment so that our fleet of scanners consistently delivers the lowest possible dose of radiation.
Our state-of-the-art systems have tightly controlled X-ray beams with significant filtration and dose control methods to minimize radiation and ensure that the parts of a patient's body not being imaged receive minimal radiation exposure.
Although no radiation reaches the uterus during a mammogram, we prefer not to perform routine mammograms on women who might be pregnant. If you are coming in because of a breast problem and you are or may be pregnant, please notify the mammographer so that we can decide the best way to evaluate your situation.
All Mass General facilities for mammography are licensed and accredited by the American College of Radiology, the FDA and the Radiation Control Program of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
What should I expect BEFORE my mammogram?
What will I experience DURING my mammogram?
What should I expect AFTER my mammogram?
What is a mammogram?A mammogram is an X-ray performed by a trained professional called a mammographer or breast technologist who properly positions and compresses the breasts (crucial for high-quality images) and checks the images immediately for quality. It is performed both as a screening test and as a diagnostic exam.
What is the difference between a screening mammogram and a diagnostic mammogram?A screening mammogram is an exam used to detect early breast cancer in women experiencing no symptoms. Mammography plays a central part in early detection of breast cancers because it can show changes in the breast up to two years before you or your physician can feel them. Current guidelines recommend screening mammography every year beginning at age 40. In addition, women who have had breast cancer and those who are at increased risk due to a genetic history of breast cancer should seek expert medical advice about whether they should begin screening before age 40 and about the frequency of screening.
When should I get a mammogram?Talk to your doctor about your risk for breast cancer and when you should get screened. Annual mammograms typically begin at age 40, but some women at high risk of breast cancer may need to start earlier.
What is breast tomosynthesis?Breast tomosynthesis is a breakthrough in mammography that takes multiple images of the entire breast. Our specialized breast radiologists use it to pinpoint the size, shape and location of an abnormality, allowing them to see through layers of tissue. Research on breast tomosynthesis in large populations consistently shows improved cancer detection rates and a decrease in call backs.
Breast tomosynthesis plus digital mammography is standard for all mammograms to screen for breast cancer at Mass General. They are performed together on one scanner for a complete exam that takes minutes.
What is the difference between breast tomosynthesis and 3D mammography?3D mammography is a commonly used term for breast tomosynthesis. They both refer to the same type of mammogram. Unlike conventional digital or 2D mammography, breast tomosynthesis takes multiple images from different angles of the entire breast. Advanced imaging technology reconstructs these images to form a more detailed view compared to 2D mammography. Together, these images resemble the pages of a book. Our breast radiologists can page through the images to see through layers of breast tissue.
What is a call back?If our breast radiologists spot an area with the potential to be abnormal, we ask a patient to return for a diagnostic mammogram to get additional images. Many women are called back, and most receive a negative or benign result.
Breast tomosynthesis, which we use at Mass General, is associated with a decrease in call backs.
Do I need a referral to get a mammogram?You do not need a referral from a doctor to schedule a screening mammogram, but a diagnostic mammogram typically requires one.
You can schedule a screening mammogram without a referral by contacting our locations or requesting an appointment online at massgeneralimaging.org/mymammo.
Request a mammogram at Mass General
Should I be concerned about having dense breast tissue? Some women are concerned that dense breast tissue can obscure important information on a mammogram.
Breast tomosynthesis minimizes the effect of overlapping tissue by taking multiple images in an arc over the breast that our breast radiologists "page" though like a book to examine every area of the breast in detail. It is appropriate for breasts of various densities.
Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about your breast health.
Should I be concerned about radiation with mammography?The small amount of radiation for the type of mammogram we perform at Mass General is below the prescribed standards set by government regulators. The benefits of mammography outweigh any possible risk associated with radiation exposure.
What happens if a lump is found?If our breast radiologists spot an abnormality like a lump, we ask a patient to return for a diagnostic mammogram to get additional images. In these cases, results are communicated to the patient immediately and a multidisciplinary team of breast cancer specialists at Mass General coordinates next steps if needed.
Breast cancer is a condition in which certain cells in the breast become abnormal and multiply without control to form a tumor.
Breast cancer in men is a rare condition in which certain cells in the breast become abnormal and multiply without control to form a tumor.
Patients who get mammograms at Mass General benefit from specialized radiologists, the latest technology and the support of a caring staff in the Breast Imaging Division of the Department of Radiology.
When Elaine Internicola, 68, went to the MGH Revere HealthCare Center for her routine mammogram last spring, she never expected it to be anything but routine.
Dolores Dunne LeGeyt is a Mass General breast imaging technologist who has never missed a mammogram. She is also a breast cancer survivor.
Mass General patient Terry Marotta faced a situation that most women dread. Although up-to-date on her yearly mammograms, she knew something wasn't right.
Blind since birth, Lil had difficulty getting to medical appointments including annual mammograms. With help from a patient navigator, she learned to overcome the many challenges she faced with a breast cancer diagnosis.
Two of our breast imaging patients write to let us know how Mass General Imaging supports them when it’s time for a screening and diagnostic mammogram.
The Breast Imaging service at Mass General imaging has a nurse coordinator, a person whose role helps to create a warm and caring support system for a sensitive population of patients. Read how the nurse coordinator helped calm one patient visiting for a biopsy procedure.
Keep updated with the latest news and information about mammograms and the breast imaging services offered by the Division of Breast Imaging in the Department of Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital.
The American Cancer Society recommends new breast cancer screening guidelines.
In a new website launched Oct. 1 for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, MGH employees shared the reason they have had their mammograms. And their moving answers, along with photos and videos, are now part of the website created by MGH Imaging.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Mass General Imaging is hosting educational events to support women’s breast health. Learn more about this year's events in at Mass General locations in Boston, Waltham, Danvers and Revere.
Breast imaging experts at Massachusetts General Hospital explain the state's new breast density law and its impact on patients.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Mass General Imaging is hosting educational events to support women's breast health. Learn more about this year's events in Boston, Waltham, Danvers, Revere and Chelsea.
Another large-population study finds that breast tomosynthesis is associated with better performance for breast cancer screening.
This issue of Radiology Rounds, the department's clinical newsletter, examines several large clinical trials that have compared screening with conventional digital mammography to screening with both breast tomosynthesis and conventional digital mammography.
The latest breakthrough in mammography, breast tomosynthesis (3D mammography) is now available at the MGH Revere HealthCare Center.
Breast biopsies can adversely affect short-term quality-of-life, and the effects are more pronounced in younger patients, according to a new study published online in the journal Radiology.
Mass General Imaging has 50 breast imaging technologists at three locations who guide women through mammograms every day. Read their advice for your first mammogram...or your twentieth.
In a study published in the journal Cancer, Mass General researchers, with colleagues from Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, found that the majority of women who die from breast cancer do not have regular mammograms.
Device companies race to improve breast cancer screening, but the effectiveness of new methods is still being studied.
Starting breast cancer screening as early as age 25 may help women who carry a genetic mutation linked to a higher risk of cancer live longer, according to a U.S. study.
Mass General West Imaging - Waltham introduces new technology that improves cancer detection while reducing callbacks.
In what doctors hope is a big step forward, new 3-D mammograms promise better detection and fewer false alarms for hundreds of thousands of American women.
Gynecologists should urge women to have annual mammograms starting at age 40, a national doctors group said Wednesday.
About 57 percent of women believe mammograms should start at age 40, according to a Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll.
The Breast Imaging Program at Massachusetts General Hospital today welcomes its first patient to undergo three-dimensional breast tomosynthesis screening. Also known as 3D mammography, this technology promises to improve cancer detection and reduce false positives.
Important breast cancer detection method, mammograms, gets a 3D upgrade; Doctors get to "look through" tissue.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved the first X-ray mammography device that provides three-dimensional (3D) images of the breast for breast cancer screening and diagnosis.
Browse our multimedia library to learn more about mammography and breast tomosynthesis at Massachusetts General Hospital.
See what our breast radiologists see when they "page" through these images like a book, examining every area of the breast in detail. The spider-like distortion indicated by the arrow is a type of breast cancer not visible on conventional digital mammography.
Pioneered at Mass General Imaging, breast tomosynthesis (3D mammography) provides a clear view through overlapping layers of breast tissue in order to improve breast-cancer detection while reducing callbacks.
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