Mammograms What to expect

What is the difference between a breast screening and a breast diagnostic mammogram?

Breast screening Mammograms are performed when you have no symptoms as part of a proactive approach to breast health. Diagnostic Mammograms are performed if you have abnormalities or symptoms your Doctor asks to be investigated. We perform both screening and diagnostic mammograms at Breast Diagnostic Specialists here on the Sunshine Coast. Early detection is the best defense against breast cancer.

What happens during a Mammogram at Breast Diagnostic Specialists?

One of our Mammographers (specially trained radiographers in our Sunshine Coast practices) will explain and guide you through the procedure. She will ask about your relevant medical history which may include information about any current symptoms and your family history. The mammographer will gently position each breast, one at a time for each picture. Your breast is compressed with a plastic plate for just a few seconds. Using compression is very important to allow us to get clear and detailed images. Generally, at least 2 views of each breast will be taken. At Breast Diagnostic Specialists you are welcome to ask any questions and encouraged to discuss with your Mammographer if you experience any discomfort.

What is a 3D Mammogram?

For both screening and diagnostic mammograms we utilise Digital Breast Tomosynthesis or 3D Mammography. During your mammogram the Tomosynthesis machine sweeps in a small arc above your breast. This produces images in layers as thin as one millimetre. We can now view your breast images one slice at a time, like turning the pages of a book.

What happens if I also need to have an ultrasound?

We also have the facilities and expertise to conduct Breast ultrasound. If this has been requested by your referring Doctor, we will usually be able to do this immediately after your mammogram. We allow 20-30 minutes for each of these examinations.

Who reviews my Mammogram?

Two fully accredited Breast Diagnostic Specialists will independently review your images. We will send a report of your results to your referring Doctor (GP or specialist) to discuss with you at your follow-up appointment.

What do I do if I have concerns?

You are welcome to consult with one of our Breast Diagnostic Specialists on the day, to ask any questions you may have.

What do I need to bring to my appointment?

We ask that you bring your referral and any previous mammogram films or breast imaging that you have had. This is important so we can perform a detailed comparison report. You need to bring your Medicare or Pension Card. We also recommend a two-piece outfit may be more convenient on the day you when you are changing. Bulk billing may apply to diagnostic mammograms which have been referred by your GP or breast specialist.

Is it safe to have a mammogram?

Very low x-ray energy is used during your mammogram so your radiation exposure is below the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) guidelines.