Mammography is a specialised radiograph of the breast.
Mammography is a specialised radiograph of the breast. It is a safe procedure with very low radiation used to show the breast tissue. Each breast is imaged separately. The breast is held gently but firmly between two plastic plates on the mammography machine for a few seconds.
Mammography is the most accurate screening test for breast cancer. It can detect small changes in breast tissue before they are able to be felt. Mammography is also used to diagnose an area of concern already identified by you or your doctor. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in New Zealand women with one in nine women developing breast cancer in her lifetime¹.
Early detection gives women a better chance of a cure for breast cancer. A firm supporter of the Breast Cancer Cure Research Trust, we recommend you visit their web site for more information at www.breastcancercure.org.nz.
1. 2012 The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation
Regular screening mammography is recommended for all women over 40 years of age.
Some women have concerns about:
The appointment generally takes about 20 minutes.
Before your Examination
Please remember to bring the referral note from your doctor.
We encourage you to bring along any previous mammograms to your appointment, it is important for the Radiologists interpreting the mammogram to have previous studies for comparison in order to look for any areas of change.
A skilled, qualified mammographer will take at least two images of each breast. Each breast is gently placed on the mammography machine and lightly compressed with a plastic paddle. This flattening of the breast reduces the breast thickness and hold the breast still, which reduces the radiation dose and optimises the quality of the image.
Most women describe the compression as uncomfortable, rather than painful. If you find the compression painful, please discuss your concerns with the mammographer who will make every effort to eliminate any distress.
Sometimes further mammograms are needed to show an area of the breast more clearly. Don't be overly concerned if this occurs. An ultrasound scan may also be necessary to complete your examination.
After the images are taken, you will be asked to wait until the mammographer has viewed them to see if any more are needed.
Your images will then be read independently by at least two Radiologists and a report will be sent to your referring doctor.
A small number of women will need further investigations after a mammogram. This may be additional mammography or an ultrasound. A recall does not mean you have breast cancer. If you require further imaging we will be in contact with you.