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Diagnostic Imaging Main Page

Diagnostic Imaging Department

Updated December 1, 2014

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. It can find breast cancer in its early stages, even before a lump can be felt.

The earlier breast cancer is detected, the better chance of a cure.

Mammograms are called two names– Screening mammogram and Diagnostic mammogram.

What is a screening mammogram?

Screening mammograms are done on women who do not have any breast symptoms and who never have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Screening mammograms are done to find breast cancers before they grow larger enough to give women any sign or hint that a cancer may be present.

Screening mammograms are done because breast cancer is the most common cancer in women.

How do I get a screening mammogram?

You make the appointment yourself. You are not referred by a doctor. A copy of the screening mammogram report is sent to your family doctor and to you.

Women aged 40 and up should call 1-800-565-0548 to make an appointment for a screening mammogram. You will be asked for your health card number.

Women age 40-49 should have a screening mammogram every year.

Women age 50 and over should have a screening mammogram every 1 to 2 years. The radiologist who reports your mammogram will recommend when your next mammogram will be. If you are on hormone replacement therapy (estrogen), or if you have a strong family history of breast cancer the radiologist will recommend that you come every year for a mammogram.

Where can I have a screening mammogram?

Screening mammograms can be done in the mammography department at the Diagnostic Imaging Department at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital and on the mobile screening van. (Check the mobile van schedule posted on our website to see when the van is in your area.)

What is a diagnostic mammogram?

Women who have any changes from previous screening mammograms, the Radiologist (x-ray doctor) may request a diagnostic mammogram, which is a follow-up from your screening mammogram.

Women or men who have symptoms such as a lump in their breast, nipple discharge or skin/nipple changes need to contact their doctor to be referred for a diagnostic mammogram.

How do I get a diagnostic mammogram?

You need a referral from your doctor. Your doctor must fill out a requisition and send it to the diagnostic imaging booking office.

Where can I have a diagnostic mammogram?

Diagnostic mammograms are done in the mammography department at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital. They are not done on the mobile van.

How should I prepare for a mammogram?

Do not apply deodorant, cream or powder the day of your exam as it may give a false reading of the x-ray image.

To decrease tenderness during the exam, it is suggested that you book your mammogram within the ten days after your period starts.

Do not drink any caffeine products for 1-2 weeks before your mammogram to reduce tenderness during your exam.

Arrive 20 minutes before you appointment.

What should I expect during a mammogram?

You will be asked to change in a hospital gown.

(Mammography room at Yarmouth Regional Hospital)

The technologist will bring you into the room and explain the test.

Your breast will be placed on a x-ray machine. A plastic paddle will compress on your breast. This compression is very important to see small details of the breast tissue and to decrease motion.

A series of images will be taken of both breasts. Diagnostic mammograms may be shown to the radiologist (x-ray doctor). Extra images may be taken, this does not necessarily indicate any abnormality.

For further investigation of any changes from previous mammograms, the Radiologist (x-ray doctor) may suggest a follow-up mammogram (diagnostic mammogram), an ultrasound, a x-ray guided biopsy, or a fine wire localization biopsy. (For more information on these procedures see patient guides available in the x-ray department or here.)

How long does a mammogram take?

Approximately 10-20 minutes.

Please note that the technologists are unable to give test results.

  • Screening mammogram report will be sent in the mail to you and your doctor from the Nova Scotia Breast Screening Program within 4 weeks.
  • Diagnostic reports will go to your doctor within approximately 1 week.
If you have any questions, concerns or if you are unable to keep your appointment, please do not hesitate to call the Nova Scotia Breast Screening office toll free at 1-800-565-0548.


Scenic Photos courtesy of Linda Ross, LinArt Photo.                                                           © 2006, South West Health. All rights reserved.