Diagnostic Testing


Digital Mammography

Imaging (Radiology) Procedures

What is the test?

Mammography is an x-ray test of the breasts and is the most sensitive way to identify early (small) breast cancers. The American Cancer Society recommends that a woman have a baseline mammogram when she is between the ages of 30 and 40, and annual mammograms after age 40. A mammogram is not a perfect test. Both breast self-examination and an annual physical examination by your health-care provider are important in detecting breast cancer.

A screening mammogram is performed routinely on a woman with no symptoms, to help identify breast abnormalities that are not clinically evident.

A diagnostic mammogram is performed to evaluate a lump, mass, nipple discharge, or other breast symptom, or to evaluate a finding that is identified on a screening mammogram.

How do I prepare?

Many women find they are more comfortable during the exam if they have not consumed caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, and chocolate) for at least 48 hours before a mammogram. Please plan to arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment. On the day of the exam, do not wear deodorant or powder, as they can cause false abnormalities on the mammogram. You might want to wear a two-piece outfit because you will be asked to disrobe from the waist up and given a hospital gown to wear.

What can I expect during the procedure?

For a screening mammogram, two x-ray views of each breast are taken. In order to decrease x-ray exposure, and to better visualize the breast tissue, the breast is specially positioned and compressed for each mammographic view. As part of our commitment to customer service, Cayuga Medical Center radiologists immediately review all mammograms so our patients don’t have the anxiety of waiting for results.

For a variety of reasons, the radiologist may request that additional films be taken. This should not be a cause for alarm as extra views are taken often. Also it is not unusual for a breast ultrasound to be recommended as follow-up to a mammogram. If additional, specialized views are needed they are done right away. Mammograms are performed by x-ray technologists who have special training and education in mammography.

How and when will I get my test results?

A radiologist will interpret the mammogram while you wait and the results will be shared with you immediately. A full written report will also be sent to your referring physician, typically within 48 hours. Additional time (3 to 5 days) may be required if we are comparing these test results to previous findings from another hospital or health-care provider.

Where is the test performed?

Digital mammography is available at all three Imaging Services centers: Cayuga Medical Center at 101 Dates Drive, off NYS Route 96 in Ithaca; Convenient Care Center in Ithaca, Warren Road at Arrowwood Drive; and Convenient Care and Commons Imaging Center in Cortland, Route 281 at Commons Avenue.

About our Imaging Services

Cayuga Medical Center has a commitment to and reputation for staying abreast of changing technology and our imaging equipment is state-of-the-art. Our range of services is comprehensive and we offer all imaging modalities found in major medical centers. Radiologists are on site at all three of our locations, which also distinguishes the level of service we provide.

Imaging Services is staffed by six-board certified radiologists, many of whom are subspecialists in areas such as neuroradiology, abdominal CT, and interventional procedures. Assisting them are experienced radiologic technologists, many of whom have completed advanced training and are certified in specialty modalities.


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