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Medical Imaging

Mammography

If you need financial assistance, a physician or help getting a mammogram, please contact the Community Health Outreach & Education Program.

All women share the risk of breast cancer, and the risk increases significantly for women who have a family history of breast cancer. Regular screenings make it possible to detect breast cancer early, which is key to a cure. This includes performing a breast self-exam every month and having a yearly mammogram.

A mammogram is an X-ray from the side and top of the breast. It's important for the early detection of breast cancer, because it can detect a lump three to five years before it can be felt by a doctor.

During a mammogram, your breasts are pressed between two pieces of plastic for a few seconds, while a minimal X-ray dose, similar to that of a dental X-ray, is applied. Pressing your breast in this way may be briefly uncomfortable.

Who should get a mammogram?

According to the American Cancer Society, women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.

Women at high risk (greater than 20 percent lifetime risk) should get an MRI and a mammogram every year.

Women at moderately increased risk (15 to 20 percent lifetime risk) should talk with their doctors about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram.

Yearly MRI screening is not recommended for women whose lifetime risk of breast cancer is less than 15 percent.

Preparing for your mammogram

Although a mammogram can be performed at any time, you may prefer to schedule your mammogram during the 10 days following your menstrual period because your breasts are likely to be less tender. The day of your test, don't apply deodorant, perfumes or powders to your breasts or under arms. And relax! Our staff is here to make your mammogram quick and comfortable.

The procedure

Christiana Care Health System offers several convenient means of getting your mammogram. The Breast Center offers comprehensive breast care in one convenient location. You can also have your mammogram performed at one of our outpatient Christiana Care Imaging locations or at Wilmington Hospital.

After the results of your mammography are reviewed by experienced board-certified radiologists who sub-specialize in mammography, they are then forwarded to your doctor.

Breast biopsy procedures

When an abnormal area shows up on a mammogram, other imaging studies may be recommended. These may include magnification views or an ultrasound of the breast.

If the abnormal area is suspicious, then a biopsy may be recommended to your physician. A breast biopsy enables the physician to obtain a tissue or cell sample of the abnormal area. Once the tissue or cell sample is obtained, it is then reviewed by a pathologist to see if it contains cancer cells. A variety of biopsy methods are available:

  • A cyst aspiration is performed using a very fine needle and syringe to aspirate liquid from a lump that has fluid inside. The fluid is removed which causes the cyst to collapse and the lump to disappear. Some cysts may re-appear and need to be drained again.
  • A fine needle aspiration is performed using a very fine needle and syringe to aspirate cells from a lump that appears solid. This procedure may be used with ultrasound guidance if the lump is not palpable.
  • A needle localization is performed using mammography or ultrasound to locate the abnormality in the breast. Once the breast abnormality is located, a fine needle or wire is placed so the tip is in the suspicious area. Next the needle or wire is held in place with gauze and tape. The patient is then sent to the operating room to have the abnormal area removed by the surgeon.
  • A stereotactic core biopsy is performed by using computer guided X-ray equipment to locate the abnormal area. The patient will lie face down on a table with the abnormal area of the breast exposed. The abnormal area is targeted by using computerized guidance. Once the area is targeted, a special biopsy device is used to obtain several tissue samples of the abnormality or to remove a smaller lump completely.
  • An ultrasound guided core biopsy is performed using ultrasound guidance to target the abnormality in the breast. A special biopsy device is then used to obtain several tissue samples of the abnormal area or to remove a smaller lump completely.
  • An ultrasound guided biopsy is performed by using a needle to collect a tissue sample of an abnormality in the breast.

Request an appointment online, or call 302-838-3088 or toll-free 877-838-3088.

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Christiana Care is a private not-for-profit regional health care system and relies in part on the generosity of individuals, foundations and corporations to fulfill its mission. To learn more about how you can support our mission, please visit christianacare.org/donors.

Christiana Care Health System PO Box 1668, Wilmington, DE 19899 800-693-CARE