Mammography Routine and Diagnostic & Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP)

A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of the breast. Mammograms are performed for two major reasons: in women with breast symptoms, to detect a possible cause for their symptoms (a diagnostic mammogram) to detect early signs of breast cancer in women who do not have breast symptoms (a screening mammogram) The x-ray dose from a mammogram is very low. It has not been proven to cause any harmful effects.

Hours of operation: Monday - Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

How a Mammogram is performed

The mammogram is performed by a specially-trained, experienced medical radiation technologist. You will be required to undress to the waist and will be given a loose-fitting gown to wear. 

When you enter the room, the technologist will ask you questions and explain the procedure to you. The Mammography unit is an x-ray machine which utilizes a digital imaging detector to place your breast on and a compression device to compress the breast tissue that will be used during the x-ray exposure and released immediately after. 

Each breast will be positioned between two flat plates and compressed.  Initially two images will be taken of each breast totaling four, but further images may be required. The compression will be firm and may be uncomfortable; however, it should only last a few seconds while the x-ray image is being taken. During the procedure, it is important that you remain still. You will be in the room with the technologist during the exposure; the technologist can see you at all times and communicate with you as needed. 

The mammogram appointment time is usually 20-30 minutes. More time will be needed if you have breast implants or special needs. Please make the scheduling team member aware if this applies for you.

The compression helps make the breast a uniform thickness, which makes the image clearer and minimizes the x-ray dose to the breast tissue. Initially, two images will be taken of each breast totaling four, but further images may be required.

Compression is necessary in order to:

  • spread out the breast tissue so that all tissue can be better visualized and small abnormalities are less likely to be obscured by overlapping tissue
  • allows for a lower x-ray dose since the area being exposed is thinner
  • holds the breast still to minimize movement, which can cause blurring on the image

Our facility uses full field digital mammography. This means x-ray images are digital (computerized images), which are stored electronically and viewed on specialized viewing stations with high resolution monitors.

Please let the technologist know if you think you might be pregnant, are breast feeding or have had previous breast surgery.

NOTE: When making your appointment, please tell us if you have breast implants or other important information, as we will need to make sure you have a longer appointment time.

Who should have a Mammogram?

Mammography is an x-ray of the breast. It is used as a screening tool to detect early breast cancer in women experiencing no symptoms. The risk of breast cancer increases with age, especially after the age of 50 years.  One in nine women will develop breast cancer and mammography can detect lumps that are too small to be felt. It is the single most accurate screening tool available to date to detect cancer in the breast in its earliest and most curable state.

It is also used to detect and diagnose breast disease in men and women experiencing symptoms at any age such as a lump, pain or nipple discharge.  It is important to go see your doctor right away if you are experiencing one of these symptoms. Your test will be scheduled by your physician or patient care provider.

If you are between the age of 50 – 74, you do not need a physician referral and can be call directly to our scheduling office at 519-842-6335 to book an appointment through the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP).

After your Mammogram

There are no restrictions and you may carry on with your normal day. The images will be reviewed and reported by a certified and fully trained radiologist. Typically, the results will be sent directly to your doctor within 2-3 business days. It is quite common that you may need to come back for follow-up imaging after the initial mammogram.  This would include specialized mammography images/xrays and often ultrasound of the breast.

Preparation

  • On day of your appointment, continue to take your medications as normal
  • Patients should arrive 15 minutes before their appointment time (patients arriving late may be rescheduled)
  • Please bring your health card and requisition
  • Wear a two-piece outfit, as you will be asked to remove clothing from the waist up
  • If you have sensitive breasts during your menstrual cycle, avoid booking the test at this time
  • If your breasts are generally tender, you may take two Tylenol (acetaminophen) tablets about 1-2 hours prior to your exam (at the discretion of your physician)
  • Please do not use deodorant, antiperspirant, talcum powder, baby lotion or perfume after showering the day of the examination
  • Please be aware that this is a "Fragrance Free" facility

Directions

Park in the North parking lot, located off Rolph Street and enter the hospital through the Emergency (ER) Entrance. Continue to Registration, up the hall and on the right.

If you have any questions or need to re-schedule your appointment, please contact our scheduling department at 519-842-6335 (Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. -4:00 p.m.).