North Pittsburgh Imaging Specialists


Breast Cancer will affect an average of one in eight women sometime in their lifetime. It is the second most common cause of cancer related deaths in women, second only to lung cancer. Numerous studies prove that early detection is a vital component in the successful treatment of breast cancer.

What is a Mammogram?

Analog mammography uses x-ray to record images on film using an x-ray cassette. Films are then “developed” and produced and put on a light box and read by the Radiologist. The key role of mammography is in identifying a site of breast cancer early in its development when it is very small and often a year or two before it is large enough to be felt as a lump. These small cancers have a much better response to treatment and often require much less surgical or drug treatment. Mammography detects approximately 2-3 times as many “early” breast cancers as physical examination, and is the best method for screening for breast cancer.

Mammography is currently the best screening examination for breast cancer. Approximately 10% of palpable breast lumps that may be malignant are not detected by mammography. In those cases, breast self-examination, in addition to examination by your doctor, is important for early detection of breast cancer.

How is CAD?

Computer-aided detection (CAD) is a recent advance in mammography which helps the Radiologist identify abnormalities within the breast. CAD technology reviews digitized mammograms and marks areas of suspected abnormalities. When using a CAD system, the Radiologist always makes the final interpretation of the mammogram. CAD improves the rate of detection of small abnormalities of the breast, increasing the chances of successful treatment. Interpretation with CAD is similar to having a mammogram read by two Radiologists.

What Should I Expect?

A typical mammogram consists of two views of each breast in which they are pressed firmly between two plates. Women with implants require four additional views to visualize tissue – using the Ecklund Technique (implants are pushed back and breast tissue is pulled forward).

The complete procedure takes only a few minutes, performed by a trained technologist under the supervision of a qualified Radiologist. He or she will develop the images and review them with the radiologist. The radiologist is looking for specific abnormalities or changes related to cancer. A written report will then be sent to your doctor. On occasion, the doctor may order additional views or other techniques such as ultrasound or MRI.

How Should I Prepare?

When preparing for the exam please do not wear deodorant or talcum powder on the day of the exam. You may choose to wear a 2-piece outfit. This will save you the need to disrobe entirely.

How Do I Get the Results?

After your study is over, a radiologist will review and evaluate your exam. Both a preliminary and final report will be sent to your doctor, who can then discuss the results with you in detail. Often, for more immediate situations, our radiologists will speak directly with your referring physician to discuss the results of your procedure.

At any time before or after your procedure, our radiologists are happy to provide one-on-one consultations with you.