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Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in their lifetime.

Regardless of family history, the two most common risk factors for breast cancer are: 1. Being a woman and 2. Getting older.

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Breast Cancer Risk Assessment

Breast cancer will affect one in eight women (on average) during her lifetime. It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women. Appropriate screening is the best tool for the early detection and effective treatment of breast cancers.

Most women are in a low-risk category for breast cancer and an annual mammogram is sufficient for screening. Other women have an elevated lifetime risk (because of a family history or personal medical history) and are best served by a combination of Breast MRI and annual mammography. We do not simply perform mammograms-we educate patients about how they can avoid or fight breast cancer for themselves and their families.

Nationally Accredited with Advanced Technology

ACR mammography seal

As part of our ongoing commitment to early detection using the most advanced diagnostic tools, we led the region in bringing digital and 3D mammography to the Seacoast, and we continue to invest in the healthcare technology and professionals who deliver the greatest benefits to you. You can trust our results because we're staffed by the most highly trained mammographers in the region and fully accredited by the American College of Radiology.

More Reasons to Choose The Breast Center at Portsmouth Regional Hospital for Your Mammogram

The Breast Center was designed by women for women—with attention to your privacy, convenience and comfort.

  • We're flexible; we offer noon, late afternoon, evening and Saturday appointments to fit your schedule and allow your partner to accompany you.
  • We use soft MammoPads® to ease any discomfort you may experience during mammograms.
  • If your mammogram indicates a need for further testing, our compassionate, integrative care services include nationally certified patient navigators to answer your questions and guide you through procedures, treatments and follow-up care.

The Breast Center at Portsmouth Regional Hospital performs 3D Mammography as a way to detect breast abnormalities. Three-dimensional (3D) mammography, also known as digital mammography with tomosynthesis, is the latest technology in breast mammography. A 3D Mammogram allows doctors to examine your breast tissue layer by layer. So, instead of viewing all of the complexities of your breast tissue in a flat image, as with conventional 2D mammography, fine details are more visible and no longer hidden by the tissue above or below.

Benefits of a 3D Mammogram

  • Multiple studies have reported that 3D mammography significantly increases breast cancer detection, with a more than 40% increase in the detection of invasive cancers
  • Earlier detection of breast cancers
  • Clearer lesion image
  • Reduction in the number of unnecessary biopsies, minimizing patient anxiety and unnecessary costs

3D mammography is recommended for patients who have the following:

  • Previous mammograms with ambiguous or inconclusive results
  • Dense breast tissue
  • Been previously called back for repeat breast scans
  • Undergone biopsies for suspicious masses or lesions in the past
  • Breast cancer, or have a family history of cancer

Depending on your insurance coverage, additional fees may apply for 3-D mammography. You will be informed about any fees that are the patient’s responsibility when checking in for your appointment.

Full-Field Digital Mammography (2D Mammography)

Low-dose radiation captures electronic images for display on a high-resolution computer screen. The radiologist has many advanced tools they can utilize to enhance the digital mammographic image on the computer screen to aid with interpretation. All mammograms are initially performed as 2 dimensional studies; it is our standard practice to add the 3D tools to your exam images. Patients have the option to opt out of 3D at the time of the exam.

A radiologist who specializes in breast imaging reviews your mammogram images and reports findings to both you and your Physician.

Exam Time and Results

mammography technician
  • Screening exams last approximately 30 minutes. Our breast center staff will provide personalized phone calls with your results within 24 hours of your exam. Results will also be mailed to your home.
  • Diagnostic exams last 1-3 hours, images are reviewed at the time of your appointment by the Radiologist who will provide you with your results before you leave.

To Prepare for Your Mammogram:

  • Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment to allow for registration. You can also pre-register online.
  • Wear a 2 piece outfit and be prepared to remove your top and bra. You will be provided a comfortable robe that will cover you from the hips up.
  • Please do not wear jewelry, deodorant, powder or perfume. These substances can cause a shadow to appear on your images.
  • Please bring your insurance card, physician referral (if required) and personal identification.
  • If you have had a prior mammogram at another facility, please request a copy of your images to be sent to the Breast Center at Portsmouth Regional Hospital or bring the disk with you to your appointment. It is important for the radiologist to compare prior images to your current images to determine if there have been any changes since your last mammogram.
  • Download the image release form that can be sent to your previous mammogram provider.

You will stand in front of a special x-ray machine. It has a platform to place your breast on. The technologist will adjust the height of the platform. One breast will be lifted and placed between special plates that transmit the images. Each breast is compressed for only 20-30 seconds, compression may be uncomfortable but important, compression allows the breast tissue to be spread and flattened which reduces the radiation and gives a clear image of the breast. To reduce discomfort the technologist will use a mammo pad that helps provide cushion.

At least two images of each breast are taken. For one image, you face toward the platform and the image is taken looking down at the breast. For the second image, you stand beside the machine for a side view. Extra images may be needed if you have implants.

Screening Mammography

calender of mammogram appointment

Screening Mammography plays a central part in early detection of breast cancers, because it can show changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them.

Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines (American College of Radiology)

  • Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health
  • Clinical breast exam (CBE) about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over
  • Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast change promptly to their health care provider. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s.
  • Some women—due to family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors—should be screened with MRI in addition to mammograms. Talk with your doctor about your risk and the best screening plan for you.

Diagnostic Mammography

Diagnostic Mammography is used to evaluate a patient with an abnormal clinical finding such as a breast lump(s) that have been found by the woman or her doctor. Diagnostic Mammography may also be done after an abnormal screening mammography in order to evaluate the areas of concern on the screening exam.

An accurate diagnosis is important for planning your medical care. If your screening mammogram shows an abnormality, we will call you back for additional imaging (a diagnostic mammogram, an ultrasound or MRI) to determine the diagnosis. Most often, the radiologist will return you to annual screening or a 6 month follow-up.

If the radiologist is still concerned about the imaging tests, he or she may recommend a biopsy for a more precise diagnosis.

If a biopsy is recommended the breast patient navigator will help coordinate and guide you through the process.

Breast Care Related Resources

Learn more about these and other related conditions in our online Health Library.

Visit the American Cancer Society