Also known as: Mammogram, Mammography, 3D Mammography/Tomosynthesis, Breast Screening

One woman in eight will get breast cancer in her lifetime. The statistics are hard to ignore. And one in three women over the age of 40 will be diagnosed with a breast health concern.

Mammograms use low energy X-rays to examine the breast as a diagnostic and screening tool to detect the early presence of breast cancer. Mammograms are recommended annually for women age 45 to 54. Women 55 and older can switch to mammograms every 2 years, or continue yearly screening.

Early detection is key

98 percent of breast cancer patients survive the disease when diagnosed early. 85 percent of breast cancers occur in women with no family history. Starting at age 40, women should talk to their doctor about when to start screening mammograms. Doctors agree that early detection is the best defense against breast cancer. Successful treatment and survival rates for breast cancer are dramatically affected by early detection of breast cancer. If breast cancer is found early, before it has spread to lymph nodes, the five-year survival rate is almost 100%.

Screening mammograms/Procedure preparation

For women who aren’t having any breast cancer symptoms, we offer a screening mammogram, an X-ray test of the breasts (mammary glands) used to screen for breast problems, such as a lump, and whether a lump is fluid-filled (a cyst) or a solid mass.

The goal of this procedure is early detection. Due to the increase in women getting screening mammograms, more and more breast cancers are being caught at the earliest, most treatable stages. If you’re scheduled for a screening mammogram but develop a symptom, please let the technologist know before the start of your exam.

Before scheduling a mammogram, it is highly recommended that you speak with your doctor about any recent problems or abnormalities concerning your breasts. If possible, collect prior mammograms and make them available for your radiologist at the time of the current exam.

Doctor referrals are not required for mammograms, and women do not need to be patients at Providence, or use a Providence doctor in order to have a 3-D mammogram.

We are happy to send a copy of your mammogram to your referring doctor or primary care provider.

Screening recommendations/Services

We understand there are many different screening recommendations. This can be confusing. If you are at average risk for breast cancer, talk with your health care provider to determine what‘s best for you.

Screening and diagnosis

  • Digital mammography
  • Breast ultrasound
  • Clinical breast exam
  • Ultrasound and stereotactic guided core biopsy
  • Needle localization

Professional and support services

  • Nurse liaison
  • Referrals for second opinions, genetic counseling and further testing
  • Resource library
  • Patient and family education for newly diagnosed women
  • Peer survivor program
  • Breast cancer support groups


  • Risk assessment
  • Breast pain evaluation
  • Breast self-exam instruction
  • Counseling and education
  • 3D Mammography and MRI

    Some Providence locations offer 3-D mammography, also know as tomosynthesis, detects 41% more invasive breast cancers and reduces false positives (false alarms) by up to 40%.

    With tomosynthesis, an X-ray beam sweeps through the breast in a slight arc and takes pictures of multiple “slices” of breast tissues. A radiologist then looks through the series of images. Digital tomosynthesis allows the detection of small abnormalities that may be hidden by normal breast tissue. It also allows the radiologist to tell the difference between a clump of normal tissue and a true mass.