The registered mammography technologists at West Valley Medical Center have seen and heard it all. They understand the most common questions women have prior to a mammogram and help countless women overcome their anxieties.

Schedule a mammogram – Call (208) 455-3905.

Why is annual screening important?

Quite simply, things can change in a year. Cancer starts within a single cell and grows from there. For us to be able to see cancer on breast imaging, it has to be visible to the human eye. Sometimes what is not large enough to see one year may be visible the next. Mammograms don’t prevent cancer, but they do give us the best chance of the “earliest possible” detection.

Why can’t I just have a breast ultrasound?

According to the American College of Radiology, ultrasound screenings have a high false-positive rate and can be time consuming, so they’re often not cost effective. However, they can be a useful tool in conjunction with mammography for high-risk patients.

What is “dense breast tissue”?

Breasts are made up of a mixture of fibrous/glandular tissue and fatty tissue. Your breasts are considered dense if you have a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue but not much fat. Density may decrease with age, but there is little, if any, change in most women.

What is a “baseline,” and do I need one?

A baseline is an initial mammogram that is used as a reference for future imaging. The ACR recommends a baseline between the ages of 35-40, unless breast cancer runs in your family. Talk to your doctor about the right age for you to start having yearly mammograms.

Do men get breast cancer?

The short answer is yes, although it’s uncommon. It’s not recommended that men participate in screening mammography, but self-breast exams are appropriate for both males and females. Some risk factors for males include family history, inherited gene mutations, liver disease and radiation exposure of the chest.

What is the difference between a screening and a diagnostic mammogram?

A screening mammogram is your annual mammogram that is done every year. A diagnostic mammogram is follow up images after the initial example. A radiologist may ask you to come back for this mammogram to rule out an unclear area in the breast. Additionally, if there is a breast complaint or concern (such as a lump) that needs to be evaluated, you'll have a diagnostic mammogram.

What is the benefit of a 3D mammogram over a 2D mammogram?

The 3D exam allows doctors to see masses and distortions associated with cancers significantly more clearly than conventional 2D mammography. Instead of viewing all of the complexities of your breast tissue in a flat image, as with conventional 2D mammography, fine details are more visible and no longer hidden by the tissue above or below. Thus, a 3D exam detects 41% more invasive breast cancers and reduces false positives by up to 40%.

Who can have a 3D Mammogram exam?

A 3D exam is approved for all women who would undergo a standard 2D mammogram. Multiple clinical studies show that all women, regardless of breast type or density, benefit from a 3D exam.

How Much Radiation Exposure Do I Get During A Mammogram?

Some women may be concerned about the radiation dose received during a mammography examination. According to the National Cancer Institute, mammograms require very small doses of radiation. In fact, the radiation dose received during a routine screening mammography examination is 0.7mSV (the same approximate dose as 3 months of comparable natural background radiation exposure).

Screening mammograms are offered year-round at the West Valley Women’s Imaging Center in Caldwell. To make an appointment for a mammogram or other imaging services, call (208) 455-3905.