MAMMOGRAMS AND BREAST IMAGING SERVICES AT CARONDELET
What we offer
A digital mammogram uses x-rays to produce images in seconds. It is widely regarded as the single best imaging exam for detecting early signs of breast cancer, even before a patient or physician can feel a lump. At Carondelet, we offer two types of digital mammograms: screening and diagnostic.
Screening mammograms are used for women without any obvious lumps or symptoms in their breasts. A baseline exam should be done between the age of 35 and 40, and then annually after the age of 40.
Diagnostic mammograms are for women who have had an unusual screening or specific concerns about their breasts. Unlike a screening mammogram, a diagnostic mammogram takes images of a single area from multiple angles, which gives your doctor a better idea of the size of the lump or abnormality.
A breast ultrasound uses sound waves in real time to show if a breast lump is solid or filled with fluid. If it is solid, a biopsy may be done to test the tissue for cancer. (This type of ultrasound is also helpful for screening very young women with dense breast tissue.)
(Only available at The Breast Center at Carondelet St. Mary’s )
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a painless procedure that creates images of the breast without the use of radiation. A special dye may be inserted in your veins to help the radiologist see specific areas. A breast MRI often is used together with a mammogram to detect and evaluate breast cancer. They are useful for diagnosing and evaluating:
- patients with dense breast tissue or breast implants
- patients with BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 gene mutations
- women with a strong family history of breast cancer
- patients newly diagnosed with breast cancer
Please note that a breast MRI does not replace an annual mammogram. Some cancers can only be seen on a mammogram.
Carondelet offers three types of biopsies for the screening and detection of breast cancer: MRI-guided, stereotactic and ultrasound.
MRI-guided breast biopsy
An MRI-guided biopsy is used when the lesion cannot be found with a mammogram or ultrasound. The radiologist uses data from the MRI to gather small samples of tissue through a small incision, allowing for the detection of even the smallest lesion at the earliest possible stage.
Stereotactic and Ultrasound biopsy (Only available at The Breast Center at Carondelet St. Mary’s )
During a stereotactic biopsy, a mammogram is used to create stereo images—pictures of the same area from several angles—of your breast. A sample of breast tissue is then removed with a needle.
An ultrasound-guided biopsy uses sound wave technology to also target a specific area. Both methods leave no scar tissue, have rapid recovery time, and the results are 97–99% accurate.
See the videos in the left column to learn what you can expect during your biopsy.
COMPUTER-AIDED DETECTION (CAD)
Computer-Aided Detection (CAD) helps our radiologists analyze mammograms and breast MRI results, acting as a “second set of eyes.” This can result in fewer false-negative results and improve cancer detection by up to 20%.
The Breast Center at Carondelet St. Mary’s Hospital is unique in Southern Arizona for its use of two forms of CAD software to detect and classify lesions.
RISK ASSESSMENT AND GENETIC TESTING
In families with a strong history of breast or ovarian cancer, DNA tests can help evaluate whether someone has a hereditary form of breast cancer as determined by a genetic mutation in the BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 genes.
Risk assessment and genetic testing services are available at The Breast Center at Carondelet St. Mary's or the offices of Arizona Oncology. For more information, call us at (520) 872-7200.
PREPARING FOR YOUR EXAM
- Dress comfortably. A two-piece outfit is usually the best, because you will need to undress above the waist.
- Do not use any type of powders, deodorants, ointments or creams prior to your exam.
- If possible, do not schedule your mammogram just before or during your menstrual period.
- If you have breast implants, be sure to inform the technologist before the exam.