Screening mammography is your best chance for early detection.
Mammography, sometimes called a breast screening, is an essential diagnostic tool for breast health. With early detection, breast cancer is treatable and beatable.
Mammography uses a low dose of radiation to get high-resolution images.
Compression is used for three reasons:
- Separates structures within the breast to enable a more clear view of them
- Gives a more consistent breast thickness, to enable adequate exposure to all parts of the breast
- The thinner the part, the smaller the exposure (which means less radiation)
Breast Health Best Practices
- Breast self-exams
- Routine clinical breast assessment (by your health practitioner)
- Routine mammography
For more information, please read our blog where our radiologist helps answer commonly asked questions about Mammography.
View mammography blog
Screening Breast Exam
Screening mammography is a breast imaging exam for asymptomatic women (showing no symptoms) over the age of 40, to aid in the early detection of breast cancer.
Who can get a screening breast exam?
- Women who are asymptomatic and between the ages of 50 and 75 do not require a doctor referral to have a mammogram
- Women under the age of 50 and over the age of 75 who have not had a screening before must have an initial referral (only for the first mammogram)
In ALL other cases a referral is required.
Diagnostic Breast Exam
A diagnostic mammogram involves a woman having a mammogram to resolve a symptom or to follow an abnormality.
A doctor referral is required for all diagnostic mammograms including:
- Patients with symptoms (lumps, breast pain, discharge)
- Patients with a previous breast cancer diagnosis
- First mammogram post-breast surgery / post-benign biopsy
- All patients under 40
Breast tomosynthesis, also called three-dimensional (3-D) mammography, is an advanced form of breast imaging that uses a low-dose x-ray system and computer reconstructions to create three-dimensional images of the breasts.
Tomosynthesis can improve early breast cancer detection and may decrease the number of screening patients we need to call back for extra imaging.
What to expect
At the time of booking, please inform us of any prior mammography or other breast imaging.
Schedule your mammogram when your breasts are not tender or swollen to help reduce discomfort and get good pictures. Try to avoid the week just before your period.
On the day of the exam, do not wear deodorant or antiperspirant. Some of these contain substances that can mimic calcifications on the images. If you are wearing deodorant you will be asked to remove it.
You will be asked to remove your clothing from the waist up.
This exam typically takes 15 minutes.
As part of a province-wide mandate from the Alberta Cancer Board, CAMIS will send results letters directly to all screening patients.