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What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray imaging procedure used to detect irregularities in the breast and surrounding tissue. Images are taken of the compressed breast to discover any abnormalities or suspicious masses that may not be found with manual exams.

Screening Mammography is used to aid in early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases. Having a routine annual screening mammogram can show changes within the breast that cannot always be felt by the physician or patient.

Diagnostic Mammography is used to evaluate abnormal findings – either a clinical concern such as a breast lump, or when the radiologist has noted a change on the screening mammogram. Diagnostic mammography allows the patient to have her results on the same day.

What do mammograms show?

Radiologists review mammography images looking for subtle changes in the tissue. Using computer-assisted technology they may also note other abnormalities, such as cysts, suspicious masses or micro calcifications – tiny flecks of calcium like grains of salt – that can sometimes indicate the onset of breast cancer. The radiologist also will compare your mammogram with previous ones to note any changes.

Most women's breast tissue has natural lumps, cysts and nodules, they are not uncommon. Not all solid nodules are cancerous – generally 80 percent are benign. However, further tests, such as an ultrasound, may be recommended to rule out problems.

What can I expect?

You will be given a gown and asked to undress from the waist up, removing jewelry or other items that may interfere with imaging. Do not use antiperspirants, powders, lotions or perfumes under your arms or on your breasts the day of your screening. These could be visible on your mammogram and produce false results.

A technologist will position one breast at a time on a lower plate, and an upper plate will compress the breast. Pressure is applied for a few seconds to flatten the breast, allowing for efficient X-ray penetration. You may find the pressure uncomfortable, but some women experience no discomfort at all.

You'll need to bring the name of your primary health care physician or advanced practice practitioner and make certain it's been one full year since your last mammogram, to comply with most insurance requirements.

Annual mammograms are recommended for women age 40 and up. Those younger with a family history should consult their doctor.

ACMC clinics offering Mammography services:

101 Willmar Avenue SW
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 231-6776
Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

ACMC-Redwood Falls
1100 East Broadway
Redwood Falls, MN 56283
(507) 637-2985
Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Additional scheduled appointment times are available Monday - Friday. Please call if you would like to inquire about making an appointment at a time that works into your schedule.