A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. The mammogram may reveal breast disease in women who do not seem to have breast problems. Mammograms may also be used when women have symptoms such as a lump, skin change or nipple discharge.

During a mammogram, the breast is placed between two plates of the machine to compress the tissue. The pressure lasts only for a few seconds. Although this may cause some discomfort for a moment, it is needed to get a good picture. Very low levels of radiation are used. While many people are worried about exposure to x-rays, the low level of radiation used for mammograms does not increase the risk of breast cancer.

About 1 in 10 women who get a mammogram will need to have additional pictures taken. But most of these women do not have breast cancer. Only two to four of every 1,000 mammograms lead to a diagnosis of cancer.

Women with a high risk of breast cancer should talk with their doctors about the best approach for them. They may benefit from starting mammograms when they are younger, having them more often or having other tests along with them.

At Capital Breast Care Center, all women age 40 and over receive a mammogram; those with a family history of cancer may receive referrals to Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center's genetic counseling program. Women with abnormalities are navigated to follow-up care at MedStar Washington Hospital Center or at a preferred provider, as requested. High-risk patients may receive further diagnostic tests.

Please call our patient navigators to schedule your appointment for screening and navigation services at 202-784-2720. (Se habla español: 202-784-2705.) CBCC patients needing to pick up their mammography films can also call this number.