Diagnostic mammography is recommended for women who are experiencing symptoms that may be related to breast cancer, such as:
- A lump in the breast or under the arm
- An area of thickening
- Skin changes, such as redness, dimpling or thickening
- Nipple changes, such as inversion, retraction, erosion, weeping and itching
- Spontaneous nipple discharge
- A change in breast size
Diagnostic mammography is also indicated for women with a possible abnormality detected on their screening mammogram and in women who have had a lumpectomy for the first seven years following radiation therapy.
Although breast cancer is rare in men, it does occur and usually presents with a palpable finding (lump). Consequently, diagnostic mammography is done to evaluate men who develop a breast lump.
About the Procedure
In conjunction with the two standard images of the breast — the craniocaudal, or CC, which is a top-to-bottom picture, and the mediolateral oblique, or MLO, which is a side-to-side view — additional images may be done using a small (spot) compression paddle alone or in combination with magnification technique.
The use of the spot compression paddle helps focus the compression to a small area of your breast to maximize separation of overlying tissue in the area being evaluated in your breast.
When evaluating microcalcifications, it is common to combine a small compression paddle with magnification technique to detail the morphology or appearance of the calcifications. This helps us distinguish calcifications not related to breast cancer from those that have a high likelihood of being associated with breast cancer. In some women microcalcifications can be the earliest sign of a breast cancer that is often contained in the milk duct — intraductal or ductal carcinoma in situ.
After the Procedure
A breast imaging radiologist is present in the facility during a diagnostic mammogram to oversee the study and determine what views are needed. Depending on the results of the diagnostic mammogram, the radiologist monitoring your study may conduct additional studies, including:
- Physical examination
- Cyst aspiration
- Ductography (in patients with spontaneous nipple discharge)
Based on the results of the completed diagnostic evaluation, the breast imaging radiologist will discuss findings, options and recommendations; answer your questions; and provide your results in writing before you leave our facility. If a biopsy or fine needle aspiration is needed, you can choose to have it done immediately or schedule it for a later date.