What is a Mammogram?


Mammography is a specific type of imaging that uses a low-dose x-ray system to examine breasts.

A mammography exam, called a mammogram, is used to aid in the early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women.

Mammograms are used as a screening tool to detect early breast cancer in women experiencing no symptoms

and to detect and diagnose breast disease in women experiencing symptoms such as a lump, pain or nipple discharge.


An x-ray (radiograph) is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.

Imaging with x-rays involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of ionizing radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body.

X-rays are the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging.


Digital mammography, also called full-field digital mammography (FFDM),

is a mammography system in which the x-ray film is replaced by solid-state detectors that convert x-rays into electrical signals.

These detectors are similar to those found in digital cameras.

The electrical signals are used to produce images of the breast that can be seen on a computer screen or

printed on special film similar to conventional mammograms.

From the patient's point of view, having a digital mammogram is essentially the same as having a conventional film mammogram.


How should I prepare for mammogram?


Before scheduling a mammogram, discuss any new findings or problems in your breasts with your doctor.

In addition, inform your doctor of any prior surgeries, hormone use, and family or personal history of breast cancer.

Do not schedule your mammogram for the week before your period if your breasts are usually tender during this time.

The best time for a mammogram is one week following your period.

Always inform your doctor or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that you are pregnant.

Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts on the day of the exam.

These can appear on the mammogram images.

Describe any breast symptoms or problems to the technologist performing the exam.

If possible, obtain prior mammograms and make them available to the radiologist at the time of the current exam.

Ask when your results will be available; do not assume the results are normal if you do not hear from your doctor or the mammography facility.


What will I experience during and after the procedure?


You will feel pressure on your breast as it is squeezed by the compression paddle.

Some women with sensitive breasts may experience discomfort.

If this is the case, schedule the procedure when your breasts are least tender.

Be sure to inform the technologist if pain occurs as compression is increased.

If discomfort is significant, less compression will be used.


Who interprets the results and how do I get them?


A radiologist, a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations, will analyze the images

and send a signed report to your primary care or referring physician, who will discuss the results with you.

You will also be notified of the results by the mammography facility.

Follow-up examinations are often necessary, and your doctor will explain the exact reason why another exam is requested.

Sometimes a follow-up exam is done because a suspicious or questionable finding needs clarification with additional views or a special imaging technique.

A follow-up examination may be necessary so that any change in a known abnormality can be detected over time.

Follow-up examinations are sometimes the best way to see if treatment is working or if an abnormality is stable over time.



If you are 50 years of age and older and have no breast implants please call (416) 691 5071 for an appointment.



Radiology Information

Ontario Breast Screening Program - CCO