Regular mammograms are the most effective tests doctors have for detecting breast cancer early. A mammogram is an X-ray image of the breast used to look for early signs of breast cancer. Screening for breast cancer involves examining a woman's breasts for cancer before symptoms appear. It is crucial for all women to be informed by their healthcare providers about the most suitable screening options for them. Informed and shared decision-making occurs when you learn about the benefits and risks of screening and, together with your healthcare provider, decide if screening is appropriate for you and when it should be done.

While breast cancer screening does not prevent the disease, it can aid in detecting breast cancer early when treatment is more effective. Discuss with your doctor which breast cancer screening tests are right for you and the appropriate timing for them.
Mammograms are the best method for many women to detect breast cancer early, when it is more treatable and before it grows large enough to be felt or cause symptoms. Regular mammograms can reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer. Currently, mammograms are the most effective way to detect breast cancer for most women eligible for screening.

ACR Accredited

Melissa Memorial Hospital offers mammograms every weekday throughout the year. We are ACR accredited and provide both 2D and 3D screening and diagnostic mammography. Our "Pink-Out" program may cover the cost of your mammogram if you qualify, ensuring it is fully paid for even without insurance. Screening mammograms at Melissa Memorial Hospital do not require a doctor's order; you can self-refer by calling us at any time to schedule an appointment at (970) 854-2241, ext. 2880.

Providers who need to fax orders or facilities requesting previous imaging should fax their requests to Radiology at (970) 854-4370.

A large white machine in a room with chairs.
A gold and pink ribbon is on the logo of acr.

What is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast. Mammograms can be used to check for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease. This type of mammogram is called a screening mammogram. Screening mammograms usually involve two or more x-ray pictures, or images, of each breast. The X-ray images often make it possible to detect tumors that cannot be felt. Screening mammograms can also find microcalcification (tiny deposits of calcium) that sometimes indicate the presence of breast cancer.

Mammograms can also be used to check for breast cancer after a lump or other sign or symptom of the disease has been found. This type of mammogram is called a diagnostic mammogram. Besides a lump, signs of breast cancer can include breast pain, thickening of the skin of the breast, nipple discharge, or a change in breast size or shape; however, these signs may also be signs of benign conditions. A diagnostic mammogram can also be used to evaluate changes found during a screening mammogram or to view breast tissue when it is difficult to obtain a screening mammogram because of special circumstances, such as the presence of breast implants.

A black and white image of the logo for ethnography.

How Are Screening & Diagnostic Mammograms Different?

The same machines are used for both types of mammograms. However, diagnostic mammography takes longer to perform than screening mammography. The total dose of radiation is higher because more x-ray images are needed to obtain views of the breast from several angles. The technologist may magnify a suspicious area to produce a detailed picture that can help the doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

BI-RADS also includes four categories of breast density that may be reported. The radiologist who reads the mammogram chooses the category that best describes the level of breast density seen on the mammogram film. The categories, from the least amount of breast density to the highest, are as follows:

  • The breasts are almost entirely fatty

  • There are scattered areas of dense glandular tissue and fibrous connective tissue (together known as fibroglandular density)

  • The breasts are heterogeneously dense, which means they have more of these areas of fibroglandular density. This may make it hard to see small masses in the breast tissue on a mammogram

  • The breasts are extremely dense, making it hard to see tumors in the breast tissue on a mammogram

A table with several different types of imaging.
A women 's breast cancer awareness infographic

What Should Women

With Breast Implants Do About Screening Mammograms?

Women with breast implants should continue to have mammograms. (A woman who had an implant following a mastectomy should ask her doctor whether a mammogram of the reconstructed breast is necessary.)

Implants can hide some breast tissue, making it more difficult for the radiologist to detect an abnormality on the mammogram. It is important to let the mammography facility know about breast implants when scheduling a mammogram. If the technologist performing the procedure is aware that a woman has breast implants, steps can be taken to ensure that as much breast tissue as possible can be seen on the mammogram. A special technique called implant displacement views may be used.