Mammography

mammography

At Airedale mammograms are taken in the mammography department which is in the radiology department at Airedale Hospital (location A14).

The department is a symptomatic unit only and does not provide a screening service for the National Breast Screening Program (NHSBSP). However there is a family history clinic for ladies who have an increased risk of breast cancer.

The department performs a variety of examinations from mammography to more complex interventional procedures including stereo-core biopsies and mammographic localisations. The mammograms are performed by specialist radiographers called mammographers. Digital equipment is used to produce high quality mammographic images.

What is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is the name for an x-ray carried out on the breast. The x-ray is a picture which shows internal structures of the body. It is produced by exposure to a controlled source of x-rays and is recorded digitally.
These are kept in digital form on computer and viewed on screen. Despite all the newer, more sophisticated forms of scanning (such as MRI or a CT scan), a plain film x-ray remains one of the most accurate ways of breast imaging.

Are there any risks in having a mammogram?

There are some risks involved with x-rays. Most of these relate to the slightly increased risk of developing a cancer. This should, though, be kept in perspective. The amount of radiation involved is equal to that which we receive naturally from the environment over a period of a few months to a year. All risks are relative, and the possible benefits of the examination have to be taken into account as well. If you do have a breast lump, or other significant problem, then the risk of not having the examination will be much greater than the risk associated with the radiation.

If you are pregnant, or think you might be, it is essential that you tell the radiographer. An ultrasound scan may be used instead. If mammograms are required, then the radiographer will cover your lower stomach with a lead apron. This reduces the radiation dose to your baby even though it is actually a very small dose.

You must also tell the radiographer if you have breast implants. 

Do I need to make any special preparations for a mammogram?

Yes, it is important that you do not wear talcum powder. Also make sure that there is no deodorant, antiperspirant or perfume on your breasts.

What does the mammogram involve?

Once you are in the x-ray room, the mammographer will position each breast in turn on the x-ray equipment and gently but firmly compress with a flat, clear, plastic plate. The compression minimises movement and reduces the amount of radiation needed to produce the image. Two x-ray views are taken of each breast from different angles. The radiographer goes behind a screen, but at all times you are in view of the radiographer, and can be heard, should you have a problem. You should keep still throughout the x-ray and may hear a slight whirring from the x-ray machine.

How long will the mammogram take?

Time will be spent getting you into the correct position for the x-rays. As a total of four x-rays are required, you are generally in the room for about ten minutes.

Will the mammogram hurt?

Generally people find the pressure on the breast while having a mammogram may be uncomfortable and occasionally may find it painful. However, the process is quickly over. Tenderness in the breasts can make the process more uncomfortable.

When will I find out my results?

If attending for a mammogram appointment you should get the results through the post within a couple of weeks. You will be given a results slip after the mammogram with details of when to expect your results and contact numbers should there be any problems.
If you have attended for a mammogram as part of the one-stop symptomatic clinic then the results will be available before you leave the clinic.