A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray examination of the breast tissue. Mammograms are commonly performed to look for breast cancer, but also can detect non-cancerous masses, cysts, calcifications and sometimes breast implant ruptures. Traditional analog mammograms are recorded and stored on X-ray film. With digital mammography, the images are recorded and stored on computerized media. The method of performing the exam and the image quality are identical for analog and digital mammography.

A new, FDA-approved imaging modality available at Hoag Breast Center in Newport Beach and Hoag Imaging and Breast Center in Irvine (Hoag Health Center-Woodbridge) is Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT), or 3D Mammography. Recent trials have shown Tomosynthesis to be a more accurate method for detecting early breast cancers in women with radiographically dense breast tissue compared to traditional 2D mammography alone. Tomosynthesis captures 15 digital “projection” images as it arcs over the breast, during a short four-second scan. These images are then digitally reconstructed into a series of high-resolution one millimeter slices that can be reviewed individually or played back in a cine loop. At Hoag, Tomosynthesis does not cost more than a traditional mammogram and requires a prescription from your physician.

Computer-Aided Detection (CAD) is routinely used at Hoag and Newport Imaging Center to further review all screening and most diagnostic mammograms. After a radiologist has viewed your mammogram images, a specially designed CAD computer program scans the images and identifies areas that may require greater scrutiny. This technology, which is like having a second set of eyes review your mammogram, helps your radiologist detect these abnormalities.

Mammography is the most reliable screening method for breast cancer detection available today. The American Cancer Society, the American College of Radiology and the American Medical Association recommend an annual mammogram for women who are 40 years of age and older. The combination of regular mammography, an annual physical exam by your personal physician and monthly breast self-examination (BSE) is considered the best way to detect breast cancer early and save women’s lives.

What to Expect

At Hoag, all mammograms are performed by female technologists who have special training and licensing from the state of California. All of our centers are inspected annually by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ensure that we comply with the regulations of the Mammography Quality Standards Act.

The type of mammogram that your physician orders will depend on your history and any symptoms that you may have.

A screening mammogram is performed on women who have no signs or symptoms of disease. Typically, two images of each breast are taken. Larger-breasted women may require additional images.

A diagnostic mammogram is performed on women or men who have a symptom, such as a lump, pain or a nipple discharge, or a personal history of breast cancer. Diagnostic mammography also is performed when a screening mammogram shows an area that needs a more detailed look. The type and number of views taken will be customized to your situation.

Implant “push-back” views may be added to either type of mammogram, for women who have breast implants. These special views are taken to reveal as much breast tissue as possible by gently maneuvering the implant out of the way.

For screening mammograms, you will be in the center for approximatley 30 minutes. For diagnostic exams, you may be at the center for up to one hour.

How to Prepare

When you schedule your appointment, we will inform you about any specific preparations depending upon the specific procedure your doctor has ordered. Please contact the Scheduling Department at 949.764-5573 if you have any questions.

No powder, perfumes, lotions or deodorants should be used between the neck and waist. A two-piece outfit is recommended to be worn. You will be given a gown to wear during your exam. At that time, you will be asked to cleanse your breasts and underarm area so that it is free of any powder, deodorant or antiperspirant. Particles from those materials may mimic calcifications on the images, so this cleansing step is extremely important for accurate imaging.

We encourage pre-menopausal women to schedule a screening mammogram during the two weeks following the menstrual cycle. Many women’s breasts are less tender then, thereby reducing the possibility of discomfort during the mammogram.

While X-rays at this dosage are generally safe, unborn fetuses are more vulnerable to cell damage from them. If you are pregnant, or think you may be pregnant, we can modify the exam or postpone it if necessary. The radiologist and/or your physician will make that decision.

Please bring prior outside mammogram films with you.

Please complete, print out and bring with you the following forms to your appointment:

Outpatient Medication Reconciliation form (for Breast Center and Interventional Procedures) - Download PDF

Breast History Questionnaire - Download PDF

For more information

Side Effects/Follow-Up Care

Side effects and complications

Generally, no complications occur. Very rarely, some soreness or bruising may occur for a short time.

Follow-up care

The mammography exam itself requires no follow-up care. Your physician will receive a report of your examination within one week, and you will receive a letter describing results within one month. If the radiologist makes a recommendation for any further imaging, you may be contacted by our office within a week.


Locations where Hoag provides Mammography services