What is a Mammogram?
A mammogram is an X-ray that enables a technician to spot tumors and other abnormal growths in the breast tissue. While undergoing a mammogram, a WMHS technician exposes your breast to a small dose of radiation. This is what produces a clear image of the breast tissue. Mammograms can show small lumps in the breast tissue long before they can be felt externally. Abnormal growths could indicate cancer, fatty tissue, or a cyst. Further diagnostic testing to determine the precise cause of the abnormality can be ordered by your physician.
Breast Health Services Accreditation at WMHS
All breast services performed at WMHS have received prior accreditation from the FDA as well as the American College of Radiology (ACR). Each of our technologists has earned board certification in mammography and have the necessary license to perform mammograms in Maryland. Besides their technical skills in this area, WMHS technologists understand that many women feel nervous when their doctor has referred them for a mammogram. The team always does their best to make you feel comfortable and protect your privacy.
Education and Other Diagnostic Services
We offer literature and educational videos about breast health to ensure that all women know and take steps to reduce their risk of breast cancer and other diseases. WMHS happy to provide a guest speaker on breast health when requested by community groups presenting on the topic.
Why It’s Important to Take Advantage of These Services
The American Cancer Society states that one woman in eight in this country will develop breast cancer at some point in her lifetime. That’s the bad news. The good news is that breast cancer is treatable in 94 percent of women when caught in the earliest stages.
Who Needs a Mammogram?
Women have the best outcome with breast cancer when a physician diagnoses the disease early. For this reason, the American Cancer Society recommends that women between 20 and 39 years old complete a monthly self-examination of their breasts as well as have a nurse or doctor perform a clinical breast exam once every three years.
Once a woman reaches age 40, she should plan to schedule a mammogram every year. The American Cancer Society also recommends monthly breast self-examinations as well as an annual examination of the breasts by a nurse or doctor as close to the scheduled mammogram as possible.
More frequent screening may be required if you have a family history of breast cancer or meet other risk factors. You should speak to your primary care doctor about how often you should schedule a mammogram at WMHS.
How to Prepare for Your Mammogram at Western Maryland Health System (WMHS)
Do not use powder, perfume, ointment, or deodorant directly on your breasts or under your arms prior to a mammogram. These substances can blur or distort the image the X-ray technician sees on the film and provide a false positive or negative report. Dress as comfortably as possible with two separate pieces of clothing, such as a sweater and pants or a blouse and skirt, so it is easy to undress above the waist for the test. Please bring records of any previous mammogram to the appointment at WMHS. This helps to establish a baseline for your breast health.
Mammography Equipment at WMHS
WMHS uses MammoPad to help make the mammogram procedure more comfortable for you. MammoPad is a foam pad that acts as a cushion between your breast and the mammogram machine. The technicians always ensure you feel warm and comfortable before starting the mammogram. Developed by a female breast surgeon, MammoPad is a single-use pad that has received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It does not affect the quality of the breast image in any way.
Breast Tomosynthesis, also known as 3D mammography, is the new technology recently approved by the FDA for breast cancer detection and evaluation. We now have this technology at WMHS Outpatient Diagnostic Center and individuals who are interested in having this should check with his or her insurance carriers to see if they cover the cost of this technology. You may choose to pay out-of-pocket if your insurance does not cover it.
Additionally, WMHS offers Automated Breast Ultrasound (ABUS). A supplemental screening tool for women with dense breasts, this technology uses high-frequency sound waves to creates clear 3D images of the entire breast. This enables the radiologist to check the breast from a variety of angles for a better interpretation of the dense breast tissue. This new technology is an additional tool for breast screenings along with the traditional handheld ultrasounds.
Appointments and Cost
Mammograms are by appointment only, but same-day appointments are available for urgent situations. The Allegany County Health Department is pleased to offer free mammograms to women in Cumberland, Maryland and the surrounding communities who meet eligibility criteria.
Schedule a mammogram by calling: 240-964-8888.
After completing a mammogram screening, the WMHS Radiologist will interpret the images and a report will be sent to your referring practitioner. A result letter will also be sent to your home address in the mail. If a problem or abnormality is suspected, the result letter will give you instructions on your next steps in the process and the referring practitioner will also be made aware of the abnormal results. For diagnostic mammograms, you may speak to a radiologist immediately following your exam to ask questions about your results.
Why You Might Receive a Request for Additional Views
Approximately 10 percent of individuals who have recently had a mammogram are asked to return to WMHS so a technologist can take additional views. Most of the time, this is to give the radiologist additional information. It doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong. A staff member from the WMHS mammography unit will contact you directly if a follow-up appointment is needed for further diagnosis through ultrasound-guided biopsy, fine needle aspiration, stereotactic core biopsy, or breast needle localization in addition to the mammogram.
Awards & Accreditations