Mammography

Mammograms, are the single best tool in the fight against breast cancer and can detect it at the earliest and most treatable stages.

Breast cancer will affect one in eight women in their lifetimes. Connecticut has one of the highest rates of breast cancer in the country, affecting 13.5 percent of women compared to 12.5 percent nationally.

While there are many guidelines regarding when to begin screening, most suggest screening women over the age of 40 with average risk. Mammograms can detect cancer anywhere from one to four years before it presents as a palpable lump. While the Our guidelines for breast-screening recommendations of different provider and cancer-related organizations vary, our guidelines screening are based on your risk of developing the disease and are aligned with recommendations from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

If you are at average risk for breast disease based on your symptoms and family history:

  • Have an awareness of any changes in your breast, such as nipple discharge or changes in the nipple, breast lumps, changes in size or shape of the breast or thickening of the tissue
  • Have annual clinical breast exams done by a trained provider to examine your breast, underarms and collar bone region
  • Have annual mammograms beginning at age 40
  • Based on your mammogram, ask your provider if additional imaging such as dense breast ultrasound or MRI is indicated

If you are at above-average risk, screening recommendations vary based on the source of your risk. Screening recommendations will likely differ and you may begin screening at an earlier age. Talk to your provider about your screening plan.

You can learn more in our downloadable guide to mammography.

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What is 3D Mammography?

Three-dimensional (3D) mammography, also known as tomosynthesis, is the latest and most advanced technology available to detect breast cancer and is our standard of care at Hartford HealthCare. The technology includes an x-ray arm that sweeps over each breast and takes multiple images the radiologist can then scroll through like the pages of a book. The additional images minimize the overlapping tissue, which allows the radiologist to analyze the breast with greater clarity.

The benefits include:

  • Reduced callbacks
  • Fewer false positives
  • Increase cancer detection rates

Who Needs a Mammogram?

The experts at the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute Breast Cancer Program recommend that all women have annual screening mammography beginning at age 40. The National Cancer Institute recommends women who have had breast cancer and those at increased risk for the disease due to their family history should speak with their provider about when to begin screening and how often to be screened.

Risk Assessment & Genetic Counseling


What to Expect at a Mammogram?

When you arrive, we will review your medical history and any past imaging procedures with you. Our mammographer will explain the exam itself and answer any questions.

After changing into a hospital gown, you will be guided to stand in front of the mammography machine. The mammographer will raise or lower the machine according to your height and position your breast on the imaging platform. Each breast is imaged separately.

For the exam, each breast must be compressed gradually between clear plastic plates to get a clear picture, reduce motion and reduce the amount of exposure needed. The compression may feel tight but should not hurt. Our mammographer will monitor you closely and minimize any discomfort.

Between images, you will be asked to change positions slightly and then, when the pictures are taken, you will need to hold your breath for a moment. The exam should take about 15 minutes for an annual screening mammogram. Diagnostic mammograms, which a provider requests if there’s been a change in the breast that seems suspicious, can take up to 60 minutes.


Mammogram Tips

  • It’s more comfortable to have a mammogram the week after your menstrual period, when your breasts are less tender.
  • Do not apply underarm deodorant, powders, ointments or creams to your chest on the day of your scheduled exam. These products can show up on the images.
  • If possible, bring any earlier mammography exams from other facilities. We have access to any you have had taken at Hartford HealthCare locations.
  • Avoid wearing jewelry

Mammography Locations

At Hartford HealthCare, we have mammography sites throughout Connecticut that are convenient, safe, and suit your busy schedule.

Find a Location

Free Mammography Guide

Download our free guide from the experts at The Hospital of Central Connecticut and MidState Medical Center to learn about this crucial diagnostic tool and how important it is to overall health.

Download Your Guide

Cancer Screening & Diagnosis

Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute