Performing Diagnostic Mammograms
A diagnostic mammogram is an X-ray examination of the breast for a woman who shows breast cancer symptoms or has an abnormality discovered during a screening mammogram. More images are taken during a diagnostic mammogram to allow the doctor to study the breast tissue carefully.
Diagnostic indications include:
- Breast pain
- Nipple discharge
- Breast lump
- Skin dimpling
- Nipple retraction
- Previous history of breast cancer or previous abnormal mammogram
Sometimes, a diagnostic mammogram reveals that an abnormal area of tissue is not likely to be cancer and the patient simply returns for a follow-up in four to six months. If the doctor decides the breast tissue is suspicious and needs to be biopsied, the next step may be minimally invasive breast surgery or a more advanced breast biopsy, depending on the individual case. About 80 percent of all breast lesions and breast lumps that are biopsied are found to be benign (non-cancerous) when evaluated under the microscope.
Why Diagnostic Mammography Is Performed
Breast cancer survival rates are higher than ever because of early detection. Digital Mammography is a safe, low-dose X-ray that can detect very small changes in the breast, especially those that you or your healthcare provider cannot feel during a breast examination. It can detect 90-95 percent of all breast cancers.
Our radiologists now use computer-aided detection (CAD) to further improve the ability to find even the smallest breast cancers at their earliest stages when there is the greatest chance of cure. CAD is sometimes referred to as a second pair of eyes because it is designed to pick up abnormalities in the breast that are not always evident to the radiologist upon an initial evaluation, such as tiny calcium deposits indicating cancer or small masses or distortions.
In some women, more advanced diagnostic testing is required, especially if a woman has dense breast tissue that can mask subtle changes in the breast. If a woman has especially high breast tissue density, a 3D mammogram or whole breast ultrasound is recommended.
Mammograms must be only one part of a regular screening program that also includes an annual clinical breast exam and monthly breast self-examination.
Diagnostic Mammograms at UPMC Susquehanna
The mammography units at Kathryn Candor Lundy Breast Health Center, UPMC Susquehanna Muncy's radiology department, UPMC Susquehanna Soldiers + Sailors' imaging services, UPMC Susquehanna Sunbury's imaging services, UPMC Susquehanna Lock Haven's Imaging services, and Imaging services at the medical plaza in Mansfield have been tested and accredited by the American College of Radiology and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The testing program follows the guidelines established by the American College of Radiology and the American Cancer Society.
Speak with your primary care physician about the importance of self-breast examination and routine mammograms. Always talk to your physician if you have a concern or question. The staff at the UPMC Susquehanna's Breast Health Center will work closely with your physician to coordinate the best care for you. If you need to schedule a mammogram, your physician will give you a referral to come to our breast health center.
To schedule a diagnostic mammogram at:
- Breast Health Center: call us at (570) 326-8200
- UPMC Susquehanna Muncy: call us at (570) 321-2545
- UPMC Susquehanna Soldiers + Sailors: call us at (570) 723-0160
- UPMC Susquehanna Sunbury: call us at (570) 286-3466
- UPMC Susquehanna Lock Haven: call us at (570) 893-5501
- UPMC Susquehanna Medical Plaza at Mansfield: call us at (570) 662-1900
As part of our Breast Health services, UPMC Susquehanna performs diagnostic mammograms in Williamsport, Sunbury, Lock Haven, Muncy, Mansfield, and Wellsboro, PA.