Questions and Answers to Honor Pink October 2012
Question: What is a mammogram and how is it performed?
- A mammogram is an x-ray image of the breast. Usually two pictures of each breast are obtained for a complete mammogram of both breasts; one picture is taken from the side, and the other is taken from the top. The breast is compressed between two plates, and the patient holds her breath for a few seconds while a beam of low-dose radiation is sent through the tissue to create an image. Compression is necessary for a few reasons. First, overlapping structures in the breast need to be separated as much as possible. Second, the more compression, the less radiation dose is needed. Third, better compression results in a sharper picture, as the breast is held very still while the picture is taken. The exam usually takes no more than ten or fifteen minutes.