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Screening Mammography

A screening mammogram is an X-ray exam that provides detailed images of the internal structure of the breast tissue and can reveal changes that are too small for you or your doctor to feel. This means that many cancers can be found when still very small and haven’t yet spread, which is important for successful treatment.

Screening mammograms are performed on women who have no obvious breast abnormality. A standard mammogram provides a 3D scan of the breast that can then be viewed in slices (tomosynthesis). This provides a greater level of detail and a clearer view of the breast tissue with the same small dose of radiation as the standard mammogram.

All of our locations, except Coventry Hills, feature the latest technology that makes the experience more comfortable. This includes the option for patient-assisted compression – a remote control that allows the patient to adjust the level of breast compression during the exam, under the supervision of the technologist.

HOW DO I PREPARE FOR MY EXAM?

  • If you experience breast tenderness, do not consume caffeine in the days leading up to the exam.
  • Schedule your appointment one week after your last menstruation to decrease breast tenderness.
  • Please tell us if you have any problems moving or if you have shoulder or chest pain.
  • Women between the ages of 11-55 will be asked about the possibility of pregnancy.
  • Bathe or shower the day of your appointment.
  • Do not use deodorant, antiperspirant, lotion, or powder under the arms or near the breast area as they can affect imaging.
  • Wear a two-piece outfit (e.g., shirt and pants), so you can change for the exam more comfortably.
  • Please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment to allow enough time to check in with reception.
  • Bring photo identification and your provincial health card.
  • Take all prescribed medications as directed.
  • Please do not bring children who require supervision.

WHAT HAPPENS DURING MY EXAM?

  • You will be asked to remove your clothing from the waist up and given a robe.
  • In the exam room your technologist will ask you a number of questions regarding your personal and family history, as well as the reason for your exam.
  • Your technologist will move you to the correct position between two X-ray plates.
  • The surfaces will slowly move together, compressing the breast for a short time to minimize your discomfort. Compressing the breast is necessary to get the clearest image of your tissue using the least amount of radiation.
  • OPTIONAL: Once you have been correctly positioned by the technologist, you have the option to use a handheld remote to adjust the level of compression to what’s comfortable for you, under the supervision of the technologist. This will not affect the accuracy of the images and the technologist will ensure that the optimal level of compression is achieved for the clearest images.
  • Each breast will be imaged at least twice to create a top and side view for each one.
  • We will explain the process for receiving your results and if we need you back for additional imaging. You are then free to leave.

WHEN WILL I GET MY RESULTS?

We do our best to have our radiologists interpret the information and forward the results to your doctor by the next business day.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

One exam, per year, is covered under your Alberta Health Care Plan for women age 40 and above. It is not currently offered at our Saskatchewan clinics. If you are younger, or need more frequent examinations, please consult your doctor.

FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

Please ensure that you bring your requisition with you to your appointment.

DURATION

15-30 minutes

A screening mammogram is an X-ray exam that provides detailed images of the internal structure of the breast tissue and can reveal changes that are too small for you or your doctor to feel. This means that many cancers can be found when still very small and haven’t yet spread, which is important for successful treatment.

Screening mammograms are performed on women who have no obvious breast abnormality. A standard mammogram provides a 3D scan of the breast that can then be viewed in slices (tomosynthesis). This provides a greater level of detail and a clearer view of the breast tissue with the same small dose of radiation as the standard mammogram.

All of our locations, except Coventry Hills, feature the latest technology that makes the experience more comfortable. This includes the option for patient-assisted compression – a remote control that allows the patient to adjust the level of breast compression during the exam, under the supervision of the technologist.

HOW DO I PREPARE FOR MY EXAM?

  • If you experience breast tenderness, do not consume caffeine in the days leading up to the exam.
  • Schedule your appointment one week after your last menstruation to decrease breast tenderness.
  • Please tell us if you have any problems moving or if you have shoulder or chest pain.
  • Women between the ages of 11-55 will be asked about the possibility of pregnancy.
  • Bathe or shower the day of your appointment.
  • Do not use deodorant, antiperspirant, lotion, or powder under the arms or near the breast area as they can affect imaging.
  • Wear a two-piece outfit (e.g., shirt and pants), so you can change for the exam more comfortably.
  • Please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment to allow enough time to check in with reception.
  • Bring photo identification and your provincial health card.
  • Take all prescribed medications as directed.
  • Please do not bring children who require supervision.

WHAT HAPPENS DURING MY EXAM?

  • You will be asked to remove your clothing from the waist up and given a robe.
  • In the exam room your technologist will ask you a number of questions regarding your personal and family history, as well as the reason for your exam.
  • Your technologist will move you to the correct position between two X-ray plates.
  • The surfaces will slowly move together, compressing the breast for a short time to minimize your discomfort. Compressing the breast is necessary to get the clearest image of your tissue using the least amount of radiation.
  • OPTIONAL: Once you have been correctly positioned by the technologist, you have the option to use a handheld remote to adjust the level of compression to what’s comfortable for you, under the supervision of the technologist. This will not affect the accuracy of the images and the technologist will ensure that the optimal level of compression is achieved for the clearest images.
  • Each breast will be imaged at least twice to create a top and side view for each one.
  • We will explain the process for receiving your results and if we need you back for additional imaging. You are then free to leave.

WHEN WILL I GET MY RESULTS?

We do our best to have our radiologists interpret the information and forward the results to your doctor by the next business day.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

One exam, per year, is covered under your Alberta Health Care Plan for women age 40 and above. It is not currently offered at our Saskatchewan clinics. If you are younger, or need more frequent examinations, please consult your doctor.