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Breast Health and Screening through Mammography

breast Cancer Awareness

At Complete Healthcare for Women in Richland, WA, a top-tier OB-GYN practice led by Dr. Richard Lorenzo, DO, and our skilled Nurse Practitioner Kortney Jones, ARNP, we believe in keeping our patients informed about key aspects of women's health. Here, we address some commonly asked questions about breast health and mammography.

A screening test, such as mammography, is performed to identify potential health conditions in individuals who do not display any symptoms. This allows for early intervention and treatment. 

Breast screening is vitally important since, in the US, one in eight women will develop breast cancer by the age of 75. Regular breast screenings can facilitate early detection of cancer when it's more treatable. Screenings can also identify non-cancerous breast problems. 

Mammography, a crucial tool in breast health, employs X-ray technology to screen for breast cancer and other issues. The resulting images, known as mammograms, are interpreted by a radiologist.

The primary reasons for conducting mammography are: 1) as a preventive measure to screen for breast cancer in women without any signs or symptoms, and 2) as a diagnostic tool for investigating lumps or other symptoms discovered either by you or a health care professional, such as our team here at Complete Healthcare for Women. This conversation centers around screening mammography.

Before your mammogram at Complete Healthcare for Women, ensure you're not wearing any powders, lotions, or deodorants, as they can interfere with the clarity of the images.

During the mammogram, you'll need to undress from the waist up and wear a gown. The procedure requires your breast to be positioned between two flat plastic plates, which will apply pressure to flatten it for the best image possible. The process is then repeated for a side view and on the other breast.

Although the pressure can cause brief discomfort, scheduling the test just after your menstrual period can help, as breasts often are less tender at this time.

Mammogram results are classified using a system called BI-RADS, with scores ranging from 0 to 5, each signifying different levels of concern or action needed. Should the report mention breast density, it means your breasts have more fibrous tissue than fat, which is normal but can make it harder to identify cancer. If this is the case, our team, including Dr. Lorenzo and Nurse Practitioner Jones, may recommend additional screening tests.

For women at average risk of breast cancer, screening mammography is suggested every 1-2 years starting at age 40 and no later than 50, continuing until at least 75. 

However, it's crucial to understand that like all screening tests, mammography isn't flawless. It may miss cancer when present (a false-negative result) or indicate cancer when it's absent (a false-positive result). Both situations can lead to treatment delays or unnecessary stress and follow-up tests.

During routine check-ups, a clinical breast exam may be conducted by your OB-GYN or healthcare professional. This involves checking your breasts for any changes. The frequency of these exams varies depending on your age and risk factor. 

Breast self-awareness is also vital as it helps you identify any changes in your breasts, which should be reported to your healthcare professional. In many cases, breast cancer is detected by women themselves.

Finally, you can speak with Dr. Lorenzo, Nurse Practitioner Jones, or any of our team members at Complete Healthcare for Women about mammography and overall breast health. We can help you understand your chances of developing breast cancer, when to start regular mammograms, and how often to get them.

Copyright September 2017 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. FAQ178.

Complete Healthcare for Women - Obstetrics and Gynecology


Richard Lorenzo, D.O.

Kortney Jones ARNP

Kortney Jones, ARNP Kortney Jones, ARNP Kortney Jones is board certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. She provides ob-gyn services including birth control, pregnancy and prenatal care, and infertility as well as gynecological services such as women’s health and wellness, abnormal uterine bleeding, endometriosis, pellet hormone therapy, and menopause.

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