Why is this procedure done?

  • Detect early breast cancer in women with no signs
  • Find changes in breast tissue before a lump can be felt
  • Find a lump's location before a biopsy or surgery

What will the results be?

Your test may be normal and the doctor finds nothing wrong. Other times, the doctor may find a lump in your breast tissue. The lump may or may not be due to cancer.

What happens before the procedure?

  • Your doctor will take your history.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have breast implants.
  • Stay away from caffeine.
  • Do not use deodorant, talcum powder, lotion, or perfume near your breasts or under your arms.
  • Wear loose clothing that is easy to remove.
  • Remove jewelry.
  • If you have had other mammograms at a different location, bring the reports with you.

What happens during the procedure?

The technician will ask you to stand in front of a special x-ray machine. Each breast is x-rayed two times. Each is x-rayed from the top down and from side to side. In order to get a clear picture of all the breast tissue, the technician will flatten your breast between two panels. You will feel a tight press on your breast. The technician will ask you to hold your breath as each picture is taken. The procedure will take 30 to 45 minutes.

What happens after the procedure?

  • You may feel mild discomfort or pain.
  • You can go home right after the test.

What follow-up care is needed?

The results will help your doctor understand if you have a problem with your breast. Together you can make a plan for more care. If you do not hear back from your doctor about your test results, call your doctor. Do not assume the test was normal.

What problems could happen?

The image can give a false-positive result. This means the test might suggest you have cancer when you do not.

Where can I learn more?

For more information, please visit

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer

This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. This is only a brief summary of general information. It does NOT include all information about conditions, illnesses, injuries, tests, procedures, treatments, therapies, discharge instructions or life-style choices that may apply to you. You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about your health and treatment options. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to accept your health care provider’s advice, instructions or recommendations. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to provide advice that is right for you.


© 2021 UpToDate, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.