Mammograms and breast imaging in South Tampa

Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer to affect women in the U.S. However, with the aid of education and screenings at Memorial Hospital of Tampa, we are committed to fighting that statistic by detecting breast cancer early, when it is most treatable.

To schedule a breast imaging appointment, please call our scheduling department at (866) 463-7202.

How to maintain your breast health

The risk of developing breast cancer increases as we age. Adhering to the following guidelines can help improve your chances for early detection and maintaining good breast health:

  • Perform a breast self-exam every month—most doctors recommend beginning this practice at 20 years old
  • Schedule regular, yearly mammograms—most doctors recommend beginning this practice at 40 years old
  • Have a clinical breast exam conducted by a healthcare professional every year
  • If a warning sign appears, such as pain, a lump you can feel or nipple discharge, see your doctor immediately
  • Talk with your healthcare provider about other ways to reduce your risk, including proper diet and exercise

When to start getting mammograms

The American Cancer Society recommends all women receive a baseline screening mammogram between 35 and 40 years old. Beginning at 40 years old, women should receive an annual screening mammogram.

Women with certain risk factors, such as hereditary traits, should discuss additional appropriate screening options with their physicians.

Know the risk factors for breast cancer

There are several know risk factors for developing breast cancer, including:

  • Early onset of menstruation
  • History of breast cancer (family or personal)
  • Late onset of menopause
  • Regular alcohol use (two or more drinks per day)
  • Usage of oral contraceptives
  • Usage of hormone replacement therapy

Diagnostic breast imaging and testing

The radiologists at our hospital perform an array of imaging services , including several types of breast imaging procedures and advanced testing options if an abnormality is found. Our services include:

  • Breast ultrasound—This test uses ultrasound technology, which implements high-frequency sound waves, to screen for breast abnormalities, such as tumors.
  • Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—This test uses MRI technology to detect breast cancer through capturing multiple images that combine to create a detailed image of the breast. For some women, a breast MRI is used in addition to a yearly mammogram if they considered to be at a high risk for developing breast cancer. A breast MRI may be conducted following a breast cancer diagnosis to learn more about the location and extent of the condition.
  • Diagnostic mammograms—This is a more detailed X-ray used to take a closer look if an abnormality is found on a screening mammogram or if a woman comes to her doctor with signs or symptoms commonly associated with breast cancer. It may also be used for patients with breast implants.
  • MRI breast biopsy—This type of biopsy is guided by MRI imaging to identify the precise location of a breast abnormality, such as a lump, and guide a needle into the area to remove a sample for testing.
  • Screening mammograms—This is an X-ray of the breast to identify any potential abnormalities in women who are displaying no signs or symptoms of breast cancer.
  • Stereotactic breast biopsy—This type of biopsy uses mammography to identify the precise location of an abnormality in the breast and retrieve a sample for testing from that area.

Biopsy testing

If your mammogram, or other imaging procedure, detects an abnormality, we can conduct a biopsy. This means we will remove a small tissue sample, using MRI or mammography guidance, and determine if cancer is present through analyzation of the tissue sample. The good new is, the majority of biopsies find no cancer is present, but a biopsy is often the best way to be sure of the diagnosis.

As listed above, we use image guidance to perform biopsies with pinpoint accuracy, most commonly breast MRI and stereotactic breast biopsy. The procedure requires only a small incision and local anesthesia.

Digital mammography

We use full field digital mammography to offer our patients the very best imaging experience. Digital mammography uses computers and specialized digital detectors to produce images that are displayed on a high-resolution computer monitor. These images can be stored the same way as a computer file.

From the patient's viewpoint, a digital mammogram is very similar to receiving a traditional, screen-film mammogram, as both use compression and X-ray imaging. The main difference with digital mammography is that your technologist can view your results on a monitor in a matter of seconds. There is no need to wait for film to develop, so you may have shorter imaging times.

Benefits of digital mammograms

The breast is primarily composed of soft tissue. When X-rayed, it can appear foggy, making it hard to identify subtle signs of early breast cancer. Digital mammography allows your physician to alter the brightness and contrast of the image, as well as zoom in for close-up views of specific areas.

Other benefits include:

  • Easier file storage and retrieval
  • Reduced need for retakes
  • Streamlined information sharing and receiving

Frequently asked questions

The imaging staff at our hospital are happy to answer any and all of the questions you have. However, below we have outlined some of the most common questions we receive.

How should I prepare for a mammogram?

If you have had mammograms in different facilities, call those facilities in advance and arrange to have your previous mammograms, reports and any other treatment reports forwarded. Do not wear deodorant, powder or cream under your arms, as it may interfere with the quality of your mammogram.

What should I expect during my mammogram?

You will need to undress above the waist for this procedure. You will be given a wrap to wear during the mammogram. You and a breast imaging technologist will be the only ones present during the mammogram.

The technologist will position each breast, one at a time, on the mammography equipment. The breast will then be compressed, and the X-ray will be taken.

If you are having a screen-film mammogram, the technologist will take all of the X-rays needed for the examination. They will then develop the films before you leave, to make sure each film shows the right view and exposure. If you are having a digital mammogram, each X-ray will appear on the technologist's computer screen, and they will make sure each image shows the right view before positioning you for the next X-ray.

The entire procedure should take about 20 minutes.

Are mammograms painful?

Breast compression may cause some discomfort for a brief time during each X-ray Breast compression helps obtain better X-rays by:

  • Flattening the breast so the maximum amount of tissue can be examined
  • Allowing a lower X-ray dose to be used, since the X-ray beams pass through a thinner amount of tissue
  • Holding the breast in place to prevent blurring caused by motion

If you have sensitive breasts, schedule your mammogram the week after your period, which is when breasts are less tender.