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Franciscan Health Rensselaer Mammography equipment uses safe, low doses of x-rays to view the inside of the breast. Low dose radiation reduces the risk of over exposure, but does not reduce the effectiveness of mammography. The equipment creates an image on a film. An abnormal area will appear noticeably different from normal breast tissue. Lumps smaller than 1/8" are visible by mammography, but cannot be detected by physical examination.

The radiologist, Dr. Peter Simmons, who is trained to recognize normal and abnormal breast anatomy, will study your mammogram to detect any variations from the norm.

Certain types of breast disease cannot be discovered by a physical examination, but are seen on a mammogram. Likewise, certain types of breast disease can be detected during a physical examination, but will remain undetected by mammography. It is extremely important that the mammogram be supplemented by periodic self-examination, as well as examination by your physician.


Preparing For Your Mammogram

Preparation for your test is simple. There are no special procedures or diets to follow. However, there are two things you need to do:

  • On the day of the examination, please do not use any deodorant, perfume, powders, ointment or preparation of any sort in the underarm area or on your breasts. Residue on the skin from such preparations may obscure your mammogram.

  • You will find it more convenient to wear a blouse with a skirt or slacks, rather than a dress, since it is necessary to undress to the waist for the examination.

Examination Procedure

Specially trained female technologists will conduct your mammogram. Patients are asked to follow their directions carefully. A successful examination depends upon patient cooperation.

Before the examination, the technologist will instruct the patient, in the privacy of the examination room, to remove all clothing above the waist. Patients will stand in various positions to obtain the best pictures of the breasts. Views of both breasts will be taken since it is important to compare images of each breast. The technologist will use a compression devise to position your breast. Compression of the breast is necessary because it reduces the amount of radiation required and provides a clearer image. The procedure actually takes only a few minutes.


Learning Your Examination Results

After the technologist processes your mammograms, they are sent to the radiologist. He studies and interprets your mammograms and promptly reports his findings to your personal physician. When your physician receives the results, he will contact you to discuss your examination.

REMEMBER, only your physician can discuss the results of your breast examination with you.


Risk Factors

Some women are at high risk and susceptible to cancer of the breast. The following is a list of some of the factors:

History of breast disease in mother or sister

History of breast surgery for non-malignant breast condition

Onset of menopause at age 55 or older

Onset of menstruation before age 12

First live birth at age 30 or older

Daily alcohol consumption


Recommended Ages for Mammograms

  • Age: 40 Years
    Baseline Mammogram

  • Age: 40-49
    Mammogram every one or two years

  • Age: 50+
    Annual Mammogram

Additional information is available from your physician, the local chapter of the American Cancer Society, or by contacting the Radiology Department at Franciscan Health Rensselaer at extension 2051.


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