What Is the Purpose of a Mammogram?

A mammogram is an X-ray image of the breast, which doctors use to look for early signs of breast cancer and other breast abnormalities. The imaging method is called mammography. It is used as both a diagnostic and screening tool.

What Happens During a Mammogram?

During a mammogram, a patient stands in front of a special medical X-ray machine while a technologist places the patient's breast on a flat plate. The breast is compressed with a parallel plate called a paddle, which holds it still while the X-ray is being taken. The process only takes a few seconds for each breast. This helps minimize blurring of the X-ray image that can be caused by movement. Compression also evens out the shape of the breast, so that the X-ray can travel a shorter path.

These steps are repeated for the other breast. For some women with breast implants or larger breasts, more images may be needed. The whole procedure generally takes about 20 minutes.

Your breasts may be more sensitive if you are about to have or currently having your period. Inform the technologists at once if you feel any pain. 

3D Mammography Services Offered

3D Mammography, also known as Tomosynthesis, is ideal for women with dense breasts because it gives radiologists a more detailed view of the breast tissue, helping to find smaller cancers earlier. The advanced technology also decreases the number of false positives. There is same day follow-up available if additional imaging is needed, which results also available that day.

What Age Should a Woman Get a Mammogram?

Mammogram guidelines are issued by various medical organizations. Please talk with your healthcare provider about the best screening guidelines for you. For more information, please review the chart below for women with average risk:

  Age to Start Mammography  Age to Stop Mammography  Mammography Interval 
American College of Radiology/Society of Breast Imaging  40* No age limit, tailor to individual health status Annual 
American Cancer Society  45 option to start at age 40 When life expectancy is less than 10 years
Annual 45-54; Every 1 or 2 years 55+
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Offer at 40, not later than 50 Age 75, then shared decision making Every 1 or 2 years 
American Medical Association
40 Not Stated  Annual 
American Society of Breast Surgeons
40 When life expectancy is less than 10 years Annual  
National Comprehensive Cancer Network 40 Upper age limit for screening is not yet established   Annual
U.S. Preventive  Services Task Force
50 74 years  Every 2 years 

* African American, Hispanic and Asian women have peak incidence of breast cancer in their 40s and should begin screening at least by age 40.

Insurances Accepted

We accept a variety of insurance plans. For questions about your coverage, please contact your insurance provider directly.

What Does Digital Mammography Mean For You?

  • Improved imaging: With 3-D digital mammography, the magnification, orientation, brightness and contrast of the image helps the radiologist clearly see certain areas. Digital mammography is particularly beneficial if you have dense or thick breast tissue.
  • Less radiation: The radiation dose can be significantly reduced with digital mammography.
  • Reduced exam time: Digital spot view mammography allows faster and more accurate stereotactic biopsy as well as improved comfort.

Why Digital Mammography Screenings Are Important

  • Nearly 80 percent of all women diagnosed with breast cancer have no history of the disease in their families, and your risk increases with age.
  • Two-thirds of newly diagnosed breast cancers show no signs that the cancer has spread beyond the breast, and most women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer are candidates for treatment that saves the breast.

Learn More

Don’t wait another day to take care of your breast health! For more information on Valley Baptist’s women’s services, please contact one of our centers:

The Breast Center at Valley Baptist Medical Center—Brownsville
1040 West Jefferson St.
Brownsville, TX
Women's Center entrance, first floor
(956) 698-5412

The Breast Center at Valley Baptist Medical Center—Harlingen
2101 Pease St.
Harlingen, TX
Enter via Professional Building Entrance B
(956) 389-6703

Schedule a Mammogram