Diagnostic vs. screening mammograms?

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Question from taylor: How is a diagnostic mammogram different from a routine or screening mammogram?
Answers - Cecilia M. Brennecke, M.D. A routine or screening mammogram consists of four views—two views of each breast. The technologist takes the pictures, checks them for quality, and then you leave. With a diagnostic mammogram, you start with four standard views, and then supplement them with additional views, a physical exam, and ultrasound and MRI as needed. So a diagnostic mammogram is for women who are having a problem such as a lump or unusual nipple discharge or pain.

A diagnostic mammogram is generally read by the radiologist right after it has been done; ideally the woman does not leave the radiology facility until she has an answer about what is causing her breast problem. Usually the outcome is that everything is fine, but there is a higher incidence of finding cancer in that situation than in a screening situation.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Breast Cancer Screening featured Cecilia M. Brennecke, M.D. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about mammograms, ultrasound, MRI, breast self-exams, physical exams by a doctor, and other topics related to breast cancer screening.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in July 2003.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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