1233 North 30th Street, Billings, MT 59101      406-237-7000
St. Vincent Healthcare
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FAQs Breast Center

How much radiation should I expect to receive with a mammogram?
The amount of radiation is extremely minimal and is comparable to the amount of radiation your entire body receives from the sun during a 1000 mile plane trip.

What's the difference between a screening and diagnostic mammogram?
A screening exam is done on a woman without any identified concerns. A diagnostic exam is performed when the woman or her caregiver report a symptom, such as a lump, discharge,etc.

When should I start getting regular mammograms?
We recommend yearly screening mammograms for all "average risk" women beginning at age 40. Women of "average risk" do not have symptoms and do not have a family history of breast cancer.

When should I stop getting mammograms?
With women living longer, there is no specific recommended age to stop getting mammograms. If you are in reasonably good health, you should continue getting yearly mammograms.

If no one in my family has breast cancer, why do I need to get mammograms?
Up to 85% of breast cancers are random and occur in women with no family history or specific risk factor for breast cancer.

How often is breast cancer genetic?
Less than 15% of breast cancers have known genetic links and only about 5% have a detectable gene mutation such as the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene mutations.

Should I get an ultrasound, MRI or thermogram instead of or in addition to a mammogram?
Mammography is the only screening test proven to decrease the death rate from breast cancer. Additional imaging is done in specific cases and in patients with increased risk factors. Thermography contributes little to the detection of breast cancer.

If I'm diagnosed with breast cancer, what are my chances of surviving?
Most people diagnosed with breast cancer do not die of their disease. If found early, breast cancers can be curable more than 95% of the time.

What has the survival rate from breast cancer done over time?
The survival rate from breast cancer has increased by about 2% per year over the last 10-15 years, mostly as a result of early detection on mammograms.

What does it mean if I get asked to come back for additional imaging?
Call back imaging is usually done to clarify a finding on your screening exam. Most of the time, the finding is cleared up and you go back to regular annual screening.

If a biopsy is recommended, does this mean that I have cancer?
60-70% of biopsies result in a benign (non-cancerous) result.

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