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Diagnostic Mammogram

A diagnostic mammogram is a safe and painless radiology exam. This is performed to detect breast cancer in women who have signs or symptoms of the disease. In this scan, multiple images of the soft tissues of the breasts are generated using X-rays. Doctors use the diagnostic mammograms to get additional images of the breast after they have performed a standard screening scan to further check for breast cancer, especially when they have felt a lump or thickening of the breast tissue.
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Your doctor will recommend a diagnostic mammogram only if you have one or more of the following symptoms or ailments because any delay could lead to serious conditions:

  • Dense breast tissue, cyst, or tumor
  • Lump in the breast or underarm (armpit)
  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast
  • Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
  • Any change in the size or the shape of the breast
  • Pain in the breast
  • Family history of breast disease
Women between the ages of 50 – 74 should undergo diagnostic mammography or breast X-ray every two years as they are at a greater risk. It is extremely important for women to get mammograms regularly because taking precautionary measures can lower their risk of developing breast cancer.
  1. Before starting the diagnostic mammogram, you will have to remove your clothes and change into a hospital gown. You will also have to remove all the metal objects on your body including eyeglasses, jewelry, hairpins, and dentures.
  2. A technologist will ask you to stand straight with your arms up in front of an X-ray machine.
  3. The technologist will place your breasts, one at a time, between two plastic plates attached to an X-ray machine that flattens the breasts.
  4. The X-ray machine will then send a beam of X-ray radiation through your breast and will take an image that will be displayed on a monitor.
  5. The technologist will then reposition you to obtain the necessary views of your breasts.
  6. This procedure is slightly uncomfortable, but it helps get a clear picture. Make sure you don’t move during the scan as any movement can blur the images.
Fact: In 2019, an estimated 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S. as well as 62,930 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.

An estimated 2,670 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year in the United States and approximately 500 will die.

1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.

How Should I Prepare for a Diagnostic Mammogram?

  • No preparation or fasting is required.
  • Avoid using deodorants, antiperspirants, powders, lotions, creams or perfumes under your arms or on your breasts. Metallic particles in powders and deodorants could be visible on your mammogram and cause confusion.
  • If you’ve had mammograms done at another facility, try to bring those records with you to the new facility (or have them sent there) for comparison.
  • If you booked and completed your last mammogram through LabFinder, your previous results will be in your secure dashboard. Make sure to bring your LabFinder Order and Insurance Card to your appointment.

What Should I Expect After Completing a Diagnostic Mammogram?

There are no restrictions placed upon you after taking the test. You can go back to your regular activities like driving and eating regular food unless otherwise directed by your doctor.

How Long Does a Diagnostic Mammogram Take?

A Diagnostic Mammogram is usually completed within 15 minutes, but the actual exposure time to radiation is usually less than a second.

Is Radiation Involved in a Diagnostic Mammogram?

Yes. An X-ray is an imaging test that involves a small amount of radiation to show images of the organs, tissues, and bones of the body.

Are There Any Risks in Taking a Diagnostic Mammogram?

The risk for radiation exposure is low in a single X-ray. However, radiation’s effect and the risk of developing cancer due to radiation increases with every X-ray a person gets.

Some women might experience breast tenderness, bruising, or, very occasionally, minor splitting of the skin if their skin is fragile.

Developing babies are sensitive to radiation and are at more risk for harm, so women should inform their doctors and the X-ray technicians if they are pregnant.

When Will I Receive My Results?

Once the Diagnostic Mammogram is completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.

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Diagnostic Mammogram

*This is for educational purposes only. LabFinder does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All users should consult with a medical provider in person for any health concerns.