Breast Care 101: Mammography

Radiology technician examining results of a mammography test on a computer

Get MedInfo in your inbox

We'll send you a notice when we publish new stories.


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – the perfect time to book an appointment for your annual or your first screening mammogram. Mammography is an easy but essential tool in the fight against breast cancer. All women 40 years of age and older should receive an annual mammogram. If your family has a history of breast cancer, your doctor may recommend that you start even earlier.

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of the breasts. It is the single best method for early detection of breast cancer while the disease is at its most curable stage. A mammogram takes just a few minutes and can detect most breast cancers early, before they can be discovered through touch. The Seattle Breast Center at Northwest Hospital provides mammograms using digital mammography with tomosynthesis, also known as 3-D mammography. The technology is one of the most advanced forms of breast imaging today.

How are they performed?

Two images are taken of each breast from different angles. To get the most detailed image, while also diminishing the amount of direct x-ray exposure, the breast tissue must be compressed between two plastic plates for a few seconds. You may experience some mild discomfort if your breasts are sensitive. You may be able to minimize this if you schedule your mammogram just after the end of your period or by avoiding caffeine one to two weeks prior to your examination.

How are mammograms interpreted?

At the Seattle Breast Center, specialized breast radiologists read all mammograms, aided by a state-of-the-art computer-assisted detection system. Studies show that specialized breast radiologists are much more likely than general radiologists to detect a cancer early when there is the best chance for a cure.

Learn more about the Seattle Breast Center or call 206.668.1749 to schedule your mammogram today.

Share Tweet