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A breast X-Ray is the most effective examination to screen for breast cancer as early as possible, even when there are no symptoms. A breast X-Ray makes it possible to see the structures inside the breast and detect small-sized lesions that are likely to go undetected during palpation (e.g. cysts, calcifications and tumors).

The examination lasts only a few minutes and is performed by an X-ray technologist. It involves taking at least two X-rays of each breast, one horizontal and one oblique (from the side) while applying pressure on the breast for 10 to 15 seconds in order to obtain a high-quality image and reduce the amount of radiation emitted. There is no risk of trauma or injury, but the pressure can cause some discomfort, sometimes even slight pain for some people.

In the case of breast implants, it is important to inform the technologist, who will adopt an appropriate work technique.

Breast cancer is a concern for everyone. This guide helps you get a clearer picture.

There are several types of mammograms, depending on the analysis requested by your doctor.

a doctor with his patient doing a mammogram

Screening mammogram

The purpose of a screening mammogram is to look for breast cancer in healthy women. It increases the chance of survival by detecting breast structure abnormalities as early as possible. This screening exam, performed every two years, is recognized by the Quebec Breast Cancer Screening Program (PQDCS).

At Imagix, most clinics are designated screening centers (CDD), appointed by the Quebec Breast Cancer Screening Program (PQDCS). Exams are free of charge, covered 100% by the RAMQ and PQDCS every two years for women aged 50 to 69.

Diagnostic Mammogram

A diagnostic breast X-Ray is usually performed when there is an issue such as a nodule, discharge or changes in the skin or nipple detected by a healthcare professional (doctor, front-line nurse practitioner) or by the patient herself. It may be done for one breast (unilateral) or both breasts (bilateral) depending on the signs observed.

Unlike a screening breast X-Ray, there is no time interval required for having a diagnostic breast X-Ray.

Preparing for the Examination

If you your breasts are sensitive while on your period, you can schedule to have your mammogram ten days after menstruation begins. Some women have noticed that avoiding coffee, tea, chocolate and cola during the two weeks prior to your appointment can also reduce discomfort.

In preparation for your breast examination, we ask you to:

• Not apply deodorant, powder, perfume or body lotion to your breasts and armpits. These products cause false images on the x-ray that may be confused with lesions.

• Put on a hospital gown and remove your jewelry, along with any metal objects that could affect image quality. Since you must undress to the waist, it is more convenient to wear a two-piece outfit.

A medical prescription is required to perform this mammogram.

The costs of this examination are covered by the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ).

If your healthcare professional has prescribed this examination or if you have any questions, contact us at 1 833 590-2715.

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Did you know? Genetic predispositions can influence the risk of developing breast cancer. Discuss with a genetic counsellor for free.