Fletcher Allen, a Vermont university hospital and medical center, serves all of
Vermont and the northern New York region. Located in Burlington, Fletcher Allen is a regional, academic healthcare center and teaching hospital in alliance with the University of Vermont.
Mammograms and Screening Mammography
A screening mammogram is an x-ray of the breast for women who have no symptoms. It is used to detect and evaluate breast changes, and find problems that you or your doctor may not feel. It is a valuable tool in early detection of breast cancer.
If you are 40 or older and in good health, you should have a screening mammogram every year.
Mammogram: What You Can Expect
At your appointment, you may wish to wear a skirt, shorts, or pants, as you will only need to undress above the waist. Patients are also asked to avoid deodorant and antiperspirant, which can obscure the x-ray.
A mammography technologist, who is certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, will position you for the exam. Your breasts will be compressed, one at a time, between an x-ray plate and a plastic plate.
The whole procedure takes about 15 minutes; the breast compression lasts only a few seconds. You may feel discomfort when your breasts are compressed. If the exam is painful, tell your technologist so she can help make you as comfortable as possible. If you are still having periods, it’s best not to schedule the mammogram just before or during your period when your breasts may be tender.
At Fletcher Allen, our breast imaging specialists are specially trained in reading mammograms and bring a high level of expertise to interpreting your exam.
If there are any potential abnormalities on your mammogram, you will be notified as soon as possible and additional x-rays or other imaging tests may be recommended. If the mammogram is normal, you will be notified by mail, usually within a week to 30 days.
About Digital Mammography
Fletcher Allen uses state-of-the-art digital equipment in breast imaging. Recent evidence has shown that digital mammograms are more accurate than non-digital mammograms in finding cancers in women younger than 50, in women who have not had menopause or are perimenopausal and in women with dense breast tissue.
With digital technology, mammograms are recorded and stored on a computer. Image size, brightness and contrast can be adjusted to see certain areas more clearly. Digital images can also be sent electronically from one site to another to consult with other providers if needed.
Accuracy of Digital Mammograms
The more mammograms a radiologist reads, the better they get at it. You’re most likely to receive an accurate diagnosis from a radiologist who reads a lot of mammograms. At Fletcher Allen, our Radiology team includes breast imaging experts who devote themselves primarily to reading mammograms. Together, they read over 25,000 mammograms every year.
Find a Fletcher Allen radiologist.