Mammography is the most accurate diagnostic technique available to early detection of breast disease. There are two types of mammography procedures: screening mammography and diagnostic mammography.
Screening mammography is an X-ray examination of the breast in a woman who is asymptomatic (has no breast complaints). The goal of screening mammography is to detect cancer when it is still too small to be felt by her physician or the woman. Early detection of small breast cancers by screening mammography greatly improves a woman's chance for successful treatment. Screening mammography usually involves two views (X-ray pictures) of each breast. For some patients, additional pictures may be needed at screening to include as much breast tissue as possible.
The American Cancer Society guidelines for the detection of breast cancer in asymptomatic women are:
- Women 20 years of age and older should perform breast self-examination every month.
- Women 20-39 should have a physical examination of the breast every three years, performed by a health care professional such as a physician, physician assistant, nurse or nurse practitioner.
- Women 40 and older should have a physical examination of the breast every year, performed by a health care professional, such as a physician, physician assistant, nurse or nurse practitioner.
- Women 40 years of age and older should have a mammogram every year.
We encourage you discuss your screening mammography procedure with your physician, however, physician referral is not required. Appointments may be scheduled by your physician or directly by calling (816) 271-1278 or (800) 443-4515.
Diagnostic mammography is an X-ray examination of the breast in a woman who either has a breast complaint (for example, a breast mass, nipple discharge, etc.) or has had an abnormality found during screening mammography. During diagnostic mammography, additional pictures will be taken to carefully evaluate the breast abnormality.