For Consumers

Mammography

Knowing the truth about mammograms could help save your life, or the life of someone you love.

A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray picture of the breast. Mammograms can help detect breast cancer when it is in its early, most treatable stages. Nearly 90% of women who find and treat their breast cancer are cancer-free at five years.

Mammography Saves Lives

Schedule your mammogram today. Search for a certified mammography facility in your area.


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How FDA Helps You

FDA regulates the standards for mammography machines and training for the people who give mammograms. FDA also certifies the places that give mammograms in the U.S., under the Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA). FDA keeps a list of all certified places where you can get a mammogram. Find a certified site near you.

FDA has resources to help you learn the facts about mammograms. Learn the truth about these four mammography myths. Get other helpful information you should know before you get a mammogram.

Myth #1: Mammograms don’t help.

  • Truth: Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before it can be felt.

Myth #2: Mammograms cause cancer.

  • Truth: Mammograms utilize very small doses of radiation—it’s like getting an x-ray. The risk of harm is extremely low.

Myth #3: Mammograms are inaccurate.

  • Truth: Although they are not perfect, mammograms are the best tool we have in early detection.

Myth #4: Mammograms are painful.

  • Truth: Everyone’s pain threshold is different. The pressure you feel in a mammogram is more often described as temporary discomfort. It only lasts for a few moments. Your breasts may be more sensitive if you are about to get or have your period.

Know Before You Go

Follow these tips to help you prepare for your mammogram.

  • Don’t wear deodorant, perfume, lotion or powder under your arms or on your breasts on the day of your exam. Foreign particles could show up in an x-ray.
  • Only get a mammogram at facilities certified by the FDA or one of its state counterparts. This ensures the equipment and staff training meet FDA standards. Find a certified site near you.
  • Let the staff know if you have breast implants. They may need to take more pictures than a regular mammogram.
  • You have the right to a written report of the results within 30 days of receiving a mammogram, as well as the original mammogram x-ray pictures. Call if you don’t get your results, don’t assume everything is normal.
  • Bring prior mammograms or have them sent to the center if possible.
  • Tell the clinic if you have physical disabilities that may make it hard for you to sit up, lift your arms, or hold your breath.

Thermograms are Not a Substitute for Mammograms

Thermograms produce an image that shows the patterns of heat and blood flow near the surface of the body. FDA has no evidence to support the claims that thermograms can replace mammograms and that thermography can find breast cancer years before it can be detected by mammography.

Get the facts about thermograms.

Page Last Updated: 09/16/2014
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