Mammogram Testing for Breast Cancer
A mammogram is an exam performed with an X-ray machine that creates detailed images of the breasts using compression and small doses of ionizing radiation. Mammograms can reveal masses, tiny calcifications, or disruption of the normal breast tissue architecture that are otherwise unnoticeable. As such, a mammogram can be valuable for detecting breast cancer in its earliest stages, when more treatment options are usually available. For this reason, the multispecialty team in the Don & Erika Wallace Comprehensive Breast Program at Moffitt Cancer Center recommends annual screening mammograms beginning at age 40 for most women, and earlier for women who have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
There are two main types of mammograms:
- A screening mammogram is an early detection tool used to check for possible signs of breast cancer in women who do not have any symptoms.
- A diagnostic mammogram is a problem-solving exam used to evaluate an abnormal finding detected on a screening mammogram or to evaluate symptoms such as pain, lump, or nipple discharge.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, both screening and diagnostic mammogram exams include digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT or 3D mammography). Tomosynthesis enhances the ability to detect breast cancers and fewer patients are called back for additional diagnostic imaging. These advantages make tomosynthesis a highly effective tool for the prompt detection of breast abnormalities. During a tomosynthesis exam, each breast is compressed twice while multiple low-dose X-rays are captured from many different angles as the machine slowly moves around it. A computer then compiles the images to create a detailed, three dimensional-like picture.
It is important to keep in mind that a change in breast tissue seen on a mammogram does not conclusively prove cancer. In fact, most of the abnormalities detected through mammography turn out to be benign (noncancerous). To make this determination, a health care professional will typically order additional testing, such as more detailed images produced by a breast ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). If further testing reveals a suspicious finding, it may be necessary to perform a biopsy to remove a small sample of cells from the abnormal area to check for the presence of cancer.
The subspecialized breast imaging radiologists at Moffitt Cancer Center are highly skilled and experienced in performing the latest breast cancer screening and diagnostic techniques. Our comprehensive screening services are complemented by individualized advice, breakthrough treatments and compassionate support from a multispecialty team that specializes in breast cancer.
We currently offer mammograms at two convenient locations, including:
Moffitt Cancer Center at International Plaza
4101 Jim Walter Blvd., Tampa, FL 33607
Monday & Thursday | 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday | 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Outpatient Center at McKinley Campus
10920 N. McKinley Drive, Tampa, FL 33612
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday | 7:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday | 7:15 a.m. to 7 p.m.