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Diagnostic Mammogram in Washington DC

At Breast Care For Washington DC, our mission is to reduce breast cancer mortality in the metro Washington, DC area. We promote access to breast cancer screenings, diagnostics, and referrals for treatment to all women regardless of their ability to pay. We also provide comprehensive diagnostic mammograms to women in the Washington, D.C. area. To schedule an appointment, please contact our office at (202) 465-7164.

Diagnostic Mammogram

What is a Diagnostic Mammogram?

You’ve heard the saying that information is power – but it can also provide peace of mind. Being told you have to return for a diagnostic exam can be stressful. But knowing the facts and what to expect can help to lessen any concerns you might have. If an abnormality is found in a mammogram, it does not necessarily mean you have cancer. On average, only three to four mammograms per 1,000 lead to a cancer diagnosis. Irregularities in breast tissue require careful study. More mammographic views and other diagnostic techniques such as breast ultrasound or minimally invasive biopsy can help detect the presence of cancer.

What Are the Reasons Why You Should Have a Diagnostic Mammogram?

  • Question arising from a screening mammogram
  • Breast symptom such as a lump, focal breast pain or nipple discharge
  • Follow-up exams
  • Personal history of breast cancer

In addition to the four views obtained in a screening mammogram, there are many specialized views that are possible to further investigate a finding. The most common view is called a “spot compression magnification” view. This is a magnified view of a particular area of the breast. The radiologist may also want to do an ultrasound.

What Are the Advantages of Digital Mammography and Computer-Aided Detection?

  • Compared to conventional mammography which takes 10-15 minutes, digital mammography images are taken in less than a minute.
  • The superior contrast resolution of digital mammography and its ability to manipulate images make for more accurate detection of breast cancers.
  • Computer-aided detection, or CAD, obtains a second, computerized reading in the hope of finding more cancers or more accurately gauging signs of malignancy.
  • Digital mammograms can be archived in various ways and easily retrieved, and copied

When Should I Receive a Diagnostic Mammogram Exam?

Diagnostic examinations are required when an abnormality is found on a screening mammogram or a physical issue is detected, such as a breast lump or change in the breast or skin or nipple discharge. Diagnostic examinations can only be scheduled with an order from your physician. The diagnostic mammogram examination is the same as that of a regular mammogram.

Current guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the American Cancer Society (ACS), the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) recommend screening mammography every year for women, beginning at age 40.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends that 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.

How should I prepare for a mammogram?

On the day of the exam:

  • Do not wear lotion, deodorant, or powder under your arms or on your breasts
  • Describe any problems you’re experiencing with your breasts with your technologist
  • Remove all jewelry and clothing from the waist up. You will be given a gown that opens in the front.

What should I expect during this exam?

To image your breast, a x-ray technician will position you near the machine and your breast will be placed on a platform and compressed with a paddle. Breast compression is necessary in order to:

  • Even out the breast thickness – so that all of the tissue can be visualized.
  • Spread out the tissue – so that small abnormalities won’t be obscured.
  • Allow use of a lower x-ray dose.
  • Hold the breast still – to eliminate blurring of the image caused by motion.
  • Reduce x-ray scatter – to increase picture sharpness.

The technologist will go behind a glass shield while making the x-ray exposure. You will be asked to change positions slightly between views. The process is repeated for the other breast. Routine views are a top-to-bottom and side view.

What will I experience during the procedure?

The exam takes about a half an hour. The technologist will apply compression on your breast and, as a result, you will feel pressure on the breast as it is squeezed by the compressor. Some women with sensitive breasts may experience some minor discomfort. Be sure to inform the technologist if pain occurs as compression is increased. If discomfort is significant, less compression will be used.

Schedule Your Diagnostic Mammogram Appointment in Washington, DC Today!

We promote access to breast cancer screenings, diagnostics, and referrals for treatment to all women regardless of their ability to pay. To schedule a diagnostic screening appointment at our breast care center in Washington, DC, call 202-465-7164 or contact us.