Screening Mammography is used to look for cancer in women who do not have any breast problems or symptoms of breast cancer.
01 Screening Mammography
Screening Mammograms are considered part of your regular breast checkup and are done either annually or biannually depending on your risk level. Both breasts are examined during a Screening Mammogram and they can help find lumps or abnormal areas of breast tissue that may be too small to be felt by hand. Regular Screening Mammograms can find breast cancer early, usually before it has spread. You can start Screening Mammography at the age of 40 without a doctor’s referral.
Our Screening Center is at 5752 Victoria drive (look for the sandwich board outside the door of the clinic).
For more information about the benefits of Screening Mammography check out BC Cancer’s website http://www.bccancer.bc.ca/screening/breast
02 Diagnostic Mammography
Diagnostic Mammography is usually done to follow up on an a potential issue with your breast. It is usually not part of your regular breast check.
Diagnostic Mammography is done:
- To diagnose a breast problem such as a lump, thickening, nipple discharge or pain. If you notice any of these symptoms please speak with your doctor and get a referral.
- To follow up on a recent Screening Mammogram where the Radiologist identified an an area that needs additional imaging.
- As part of the regular follow up for women who have had breast cancer.
- As part of the regular breast check for women with breast implants who can not been seen at BC Cancer Screening.
Because Diagnostic Mammography takes more detailed images of the breast from different angles, these appointments usually take longer than a Screening Mammogram. Please plan to spend up to one hour at your Diagnostic Mammogram appointment.
Our Diagnostic Center is at 5732 Victoria drive, which is our larger main office.
03 Exam Prep
You do not need to do any special exam prep but please do not wear any antiperspirant, perfume or body glitter on the day of your appointment. For your own comfort please wear clothing that can be removed easily from the waist up.
- 1What should I expect? What happens during a Mammogram appointment?
- A female Technologist will ask you some questions pertaining to your breast health.
- The Technologist will then proceed to the Mammography examination where she will place your breast on a special X-Ray machine. A plastic plate will be pressed slowly onto your breasts to compress your breast and hold it in place for a few seconds.
- You will feel some pressure on your breast for a few seconds during the Mammogram. The Technologist may also ask you to stop breathing.
- The Technologist will then check the pictures to make sure they are good quality.
- The Technologist will repeat these steps until all necessary images are taken. Typically for a Screening Mammogram 4 images are taken. For a Diagnostic Exam the number of images depends on the breast concern being examined.
- For a Diagnostic Mammogram you will be asked to wait while the images are checked by the Radiologist. If the Radiologist asks for different views you may have to go back into the exam room to have more pictures taken.
- 2Do Mammograms hurt?
During the Mammogram the Technologist will position your breast on a special mammogram machine and your breast will be compressed. Some patients will experience discomfort when pressure is applied to the breasts. The pressure applied lasts 5-15 seconds per image. Most patients find the exam easier than they expected.
If you tend to have sensitive breasts consider the following ways to reduce discomfort:
- Timing: If you have a regular period schedule your Mammogram for the week after a menstrual period, at this time your breast may be less tender.
- History: If you have a history of sensitivity during a Mammogram please let your Technologist know.
- Caffeine and tobacco: Consider consuming less caffeine and tobacco the morning before your exam as this may help to reduce breast tenderness.
- Drugs: If your Doctor says it is safe to do so take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen, 45–60 minutes before the screening. This may help to reduce discomfort.
- 3Why does my breast need to be compressed?
The pressure applied to your breast is critical as it helps to obtain high quality Mammogram images so that the Radiologist can interpret and diagnose any issues.
- Compression on the breasts during a Mammogram helps to spread out the normal fibro glandular (dense) tissue of the breast making it easier for Radiologists to see through the breast tissue and detect abnormalities that might be hidden.
- Compression helps reduce motion or blur on the Mammogram images. These can be caused by accidental patient movement or breathing motions and result in unclear or blurry images.
- The more the breast is compressed, the less radiation exposure is needed to obtain optimal images.
- 4How long will my Mammogram appointment take?
- A Screening Mammogram appointment will take anywhere from 5 to 15 mins.
- A Diagnostic Mammogram appointment will take anywhere from 15 mins to 1 hour.
- 5Can I get a Mammogram if I am pregnant or think I may be pregnant?
If you are experiencing breast symptoms and you are pregnant, think you may be pregnant or are currently breastfeeding please speak with your Doctor to see what type of imaging is best suited for you.
- 6Do I need a requisition/referral from my Doctor?
If you are booking a Screening Mammogram then you do not need a requisition/referral from your Doctor. You can call us directly at 604-321-6770 and book the appointment as long as you meet the following requirements:
- at least 40 years of age
- no current breast symptoms or concerns
- no previous personal history with breast cancer
- currently have no breast implants
- currently not pregnant
- have not breastfed in the last 3 months.
*** Our screening center is at 5752 Victoria drive.
If you are booking a Diagnostic Mammogram then you need a referral from your Doctor. Once you have a referral from your Doctor call us at 604-321-6774 to book your appointment.
*** Our diagnostic center is at 5732 Victoria drive.
- 7Will the Technologist tell me my results during my exam?
Technologists are highly skilled and specially trained to obtain high quality mammographic images, but only Radiologists are qualified to interpret your results. For this reason, our Technologists cannot discuss what they see with you.
- 8When will my Doctor get my results?
- Screening Mammogram results will be sent to you and your Doctor by mail in 2-3 weeks.
- Diagnostic Mammogram results will be sent to your Doctor within 2-3 business days.
- 9What should I wear for my Mammogram?
You will need to remove your clothing from the waist up so please wear clothing that is easily removed. Please also refrain from wearing jewelry (no necklaces or earrings). Please do not wear any antiperspirant, perfume or body glitter.
- 10Will a male Technologist perform my Mammogram?
No, only female Technologists perform breast imaging at Greig Associates.
- 11I have a mobility or health issue, can I still come to Greig Associates for my Mammogram?
If you are concerned about your mobility or have another health issue that may affect your Mammogram exam please call ahead of time. Some accommodations can be made but in general all patients must be able to:
- stand or sit in a backless chair unassisted.
- follow directions and communicate with the Technologist and clerical staff.
- remain still for 15 second periods.
If your mobility or health issue would make it difficult for you to meet these requirements we recommend you attend one of the hospitals to get your mammogram as the Hospital Radiology Department will have access to hoists, slides and other equipment to ensure your safety during the exam
- 12I am in a wheelchair, can I still come to Greig Associates for my Mammogram?
Unfortunately the space of our exam room will not accommodate all wheelchairs and we do not have any specialized equipment to transfer patients. We recommend you attend one of the hospitals for your Mammogram as the Hospital Radiology Department have access to hoists, slides and other equipment to ensure your safety.
- 13My relative has a Mammogram appointment but speaks no English, what can we do to prepare them?
If possible, come to the appointment with your relative to help with translation. If there is no one who can assist in translating you can help your relative by going over the points below;
- Ensure your relative brings their BC Services Card
- For Diagnostic Mammogram appointments please make sure your relative brings their referral paper. If their Doctor has faxed the paper to us, please call in advance to ensure we have it.
- Please ensure your relative understands that they will need to present their BC Services Card to the reception staff at check in, and to the Technologist to confirm identity before their Mammogram. Diagnostic Mammography patients will have to present both their BC Services Card and their doctor’s referral.
- Please ensure your relative understands the Mammogram procedure; that they will have to remove their clothes from the waist up, that the Technologist will position their breasts in the Mammography machine and that the machine will apply pressure to the breast for a short period of time.
- 14Are Mammograms safe?
Mammograms require very small doses of radiation – the equivalent to 6 months of background radiation exposure from daily living. The risk of harm from this amount of radiation exposure is low, and the benefits outweigh the risk. Furthermore, there has never been a case of breast cancer proven to be caused from radiation exposure during a Mammogram. If you would like to know more about radiation safety, please visit the Radiation Safety Institute of Canada website.