Mammogram FAQs

How do I prepare for my mammogram?

If this is your first time having a mammogram at Hoag Breast Care Center, please obtain any previous mammographic studies and bring them with you for comparison purposes. Comparing previous films with present studies allows for a proper diagnosis to be performed. In addition, on the day of your mammogram, please do not use deodorants, creams or powders in the underarm or breast area. Since you will be asked to undress from the waist up and wear a comfortable robe, you will find that wearing a skirt or pants will be more convenient than a dress.

Why is mammography important?

Mammography is the single most effective screening tool available to detect breast cancer early. Today’s low-dose mammography techniques have greatly improved survival from breast cancer because mammography may detect a tumor long before you or your doctor can feel it. If breast cancer is found and treated early, and localized to the breast, the national ten-year relative survival rate is greater than 90 percent. In addition, you have more treatment options, including breast-conserving surgery, when the tumor is detected at an early stage.

What if I have breast implants?

If you have breast implants you should still follow the recommended screening guidelines for mammography. It’s especially important for women with implants to receive their mammogram at an accredited facility experienced in performing mammography on patients with breast implants.
When you have implants, several special mammographic views must be taken to allow visualization of both the breast tissue and the implant. Hoag’s team of highly trained breast care technologists knows how to carefully compress your breasts in order to optimize the image, while minimizing the risk of injuring your breast implant.

What If I have Had Breast Implants or Reduction?

If you have breast implants you should still follow the recommended screening guidelines for mammography. It’s especially important for women with implants to receive their mammogram at an accredited facility experienced in performing mammography on patients with breast implants.
When you have implants, several special mammographic views must be taken to allow visualization of both the breast tissue and the implant. Hoag’s team of highly trained breast care technologists knows how to carefully compress your breasts in order to optimize the image, while minimizing the risk of injuring your breast implant.

What other breast exams do I need?

A comprehensive breast health plan includes a Screening Mammography along with regular clinical breast exams by your physician and monthly breast self-examination. Together, these are three important ways you can take positive steps in maintaining good health and increasing your chances for detecting breast cancer at its earliest stages.

Where can I get a mammogram?

Because mammography is considered the single most important tool in the early detection of breast cancer, Hoag has convenient breast screening locations in Aliso Viejo, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Irvine and Newport Beach. To schedule an appointment, please call 800-309-9729.

What if an abnormality is found on the screening mammogram?

First, do not get alarmed. Most abnormalities discovered by mammography are benign (not cancer). But if an abnormality is discovered by mammography, you will need additional breast evaluation at Hoag Breast Care Center in Newport Beach. In addition to diagnostic mammography, additional breast imaging may be required including breast ultrasound and breast MRI.

If I need additional diagnostic tests, where will they be performed?

While a Screening Mammogram can be performed at any of our satellite locations, any additional tests are performed at the Hoag Breast Care Center at Hoag Hospital, Newport Beach. The reason for this is simple - we have concentrated all of our breast expertise and sophisticated diagnostic tools in a centralized location. In fact, your initial screening mammogram is digitally transmitted directly to the Hoag Breast Care Center and is interpreted there by our expert dedicated breast radiologists.

What does a mammogram feel like?

During mammography, you will feel pressure on the breast as it is squeezed by a compression paddle. Compression is needed in order to produce an optimal mammogram and to reduce the radiation exposure to the breast. For most women, mammography is not painful, although some women may experience minor discomfort. If this is the case, schedule the procedure when your breasts are the least tender.

How will I get the results of my screening mammogram?

Hoag’s specialized breast radiologists will carefully and promptly interpret your screening mammogram and send a written report to your physician, who will discuss the results with you. In addition, you will receive a letter notifying you of the results of your mammogram.

​What if I have small breasts?

Experienced mammography technologists, such as those at Hoag Breast Care Center, know how to image all breast sizes and shapes, including very small breasts. Even if you have small breasts you will generally have enough breast tissue for a mammogram. Breast size and shape rarely affect the accuracy of mammography.

Who should receive a mammogram?

Considering the high incidence of breast cancer and the demonstrated value of mammography, Hoag Breast Care Center and the American Cancer Society propose this guideline: Routine annual mammograms are recommended for all women beginning at age 40.

Mammograms may also be advised for you at any age if you have or develop any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • palpable lump in the breast
  • discharge from the nipple
  • visible changes in the surface of the breast skin
  • breasts that may be hard to examine due to their large size or prior surger
  • strong family history of breast cancer
  • If you are at high risk for breast cancer, you should speak to your physician about whether you should begin screening before age 40 and about how often you should be screened.

Why doesn’t Hoag provide both Screening and Diagnostic mammography at all Hoag Imaging Centers in Orange County?

Screening mammography remains the most effective tool in the early detection of breast cancer. Because the majority of women seeking breast imaging services require only a Screening Mammogram (routine mammogram), Hoag provides multiple screening locations throughout Orange County. This ensures convenient and timely access to routine screening while maintaining the highest quality of service.

It is important to note that all of the Screening Mammograms performed at our satellite Hoag Imaging Centers are read and interpreted solely by the expert breast imaging specialists at Hoag Breast Care Center at Hoag Hospital, Newport Beach.

Diagnostic Mammography is a highly specialized imaging study requiring direct and concurrent on site evaluation by breast radiologists who specialize in interpreting mammograms, breast MRIs and ultrasounds, and these are performed at Hoag Breast Care Center at Hoag Hospital, Newport Beach. After a Diagnostic Mammogram is performed, it is immediately read by a Hoag breast radiologist. If necessary, extra views or additional imaging, such as breast ultrasound may be performed at that time. The radiologist discusses the findings with the patient in person, and if additional tests are required, these are discussed and scheduled before the patient leaves the Breast Center.

Having a breast radiologist present and overseeing every Diagnostic Mammogram results in more accurate interpretation, leading to the diagnosis of breast cancer at an earlier stage, and results in fewer false positive readings (findings that are thought to be suspicious, but turn out to be benign). Nationwide, the Positive Predictive Value (PPV) - the ability to correctly predict the presence of a malignant lesion - is 20 percent. Hoag’s commitment to excellence has resulted in a PPV of 48% - meaning that Hoag Breast Care Center is more able to accurately screen and diagnose a malignancy early on.

After breast cancer treatment, how often should I receive a mammogram?

At the current time, the standard approach for monitoring patients is a physical exam and a review of symptoms anywhere from every three to six months for the first two to three years, then every six months until year five, and annually thereafter. You should continue to have annual mammograms of the other breast.