78617009_500What is a Screening Mammogram?

A screening mammogram is routine imaging that is intended to help identify signs of possible breast cancer.

Screening mammograms are X-ray exams of the breasts that are used for women who have no signs of breast cancer or have not previously had an abnormal mammogram. Screening mammograms can help physicians identify breast cancer when it is too small to be felt as a lump by a woman or her doctor. Finding breast cancer early, before it has grown and spread to other parts of the body greatly improves a woman’s chances for successful treatment.

Screening mammograms usually include two X-ray images of each breast. Some women, such as those with large breasts, may need more images to see as much breast tissue as possible.

What is a Diagnostic Mammogram?

Diagnostic mammograms are used to investigate possible abnormalities or problems.

Diagnostic mammograms are typically orders for women who have a lump, nipple discharge or other abnormal area in one or both of their breasts. Diagnostic mammograms are sometimes done for screening purposes among women who were previously treated for breast cancer but currently have no breast problems or abnormalities.

During a diagnostic mammogram, images are typically reviewed by a radiologist while the patient is still there so that more images can be obtained to look more closely at an area of concern, if needed. In some cases, spot views or magnification views are used to obtain detailed images of a small area of concern for easier to evaluation. Physicians my also order other types of imaging, such as ultrasound, in addition to a diagnostic mammogram, depending on the type of problem and where in the breast it is located.