What is a Mammogram Screening

Mammograms are the best screening technology to detect breast cancer early. Getting regular mammograms is an important step in protecting your breast health.

Sanford Health recommends you get screened once a year starting at age 40.

If you’re 40 years old or older and due for a breast cancer screening, schedule a mammogram through My Sanford Chart or by calling your clinic.

Find a Clinic

If you’re under 40 years old but have symptoms or a family history of breast cancer, talk to your primary care provider about getting screened earlier or call (855) 353-3484.

What is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is a safe, low-dose X-ray of the inside of your breast. During a mammogram, your breast is gently squeezed between two plates to get a good picture. The screening helps detect changes in the breast that are too small to feel or see. The screening takes a few seconds, and most women experience only mild discomfort.

Schedule a Mammogram

Talk to your doctor if you feel or see something concerning about your breasts, even if you just had a mammogram.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get mammogram results?

Typically not. A radiologist needs to examine the images from the mammogram and send the results to your doctor. Your doctor will discuss the findings with you or send them. By law, you will get your results in less than 30 days after the test, but it is usually much sooner than that. Ask your technologist how long it will take.

Are mammograms safe?

Mammograms only expose women to a tiny amount of radiation and are very safe.

Do mammograms hurt?

Different women report different amounts of pain. Most women feel only mild discomfort.

Are mammograms safe with implants?

It is important to talk to your doctor about your breast implants before your mammography. There is a small chance that your implants could rupture during a mammogram, but the benefits of the screening far outweigh this risk. Implants can also impede the radiologist’s ability to read the mammogram if the implant obscures part of the breast. If you have implants, you should still get screened once a year. Mammograms are an effective way to detect breast cancer early even in women with implants.

Are mammograms necessary every year?

Yes! You should start getting screened once a year after you turn 40 years old.

Can mammograms miss breast cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, mammograms are currently the best breast cancer screening test. However, they can miss breast cancers in some women. For example, dense breast tissue makes it harder to find cancer on a mammogram. Talk with your doctor if you're concerned about the accuracy of mammograms.

How do mammograms detect cancer?

Mammograms image your breast tissue using a smaller dose of radiation than the typical X-ray. Trained radiologists then examine the image, looking for abnormal tissue that could be cancer. A mammogram is a screening tool, so if an expert finds abnormal tissue, you’ll undergo more tests.

How should I prepare for a mammogram?

You need to do very little to prepare for this test. Don’t use deodorant, lotions, creams or other substances under your arms before a mammogram. If you’ve experienced discomfort during past mammograms, you can take over-the-counter pain medication like aspirin or ibuprofen an hour before the test.

How long does a mammogram take?

The test itself takes only a few seconds. Technologists need to make sure they got high-quality images, and you may be asked to repeat a part of the test. You can expect the whole procedure to take less than half an hour.

Can I get a mammogram while I’m pregnant?

Although it is very unlikely that a mammogram will harm your baby, doctors typically don’t do mammograms on pregnant women. Talk to your doctor if you’d still like to get screened while pregnant.