Breast Cancer Frequently Asked Questions

How do I conduct a Breast Self-Exam (BSE)?

The key to doing a BSE is knowing your own breast. Please review our Breast Self-exam page and ask Breast Center staff if you need additional instruction.

Should I get a screening mammogram every year?

Mammography is the most beneficial and reliable screening test of all cancer screening. Although not the perfect test, a mammogram can detect cancer growing long before any type of physical examination allows a growth to be felt. City of Hope follows the American Cancer Society guidelines and the National Cancer Center Network (NCCN) in believing that yearly mammograms are necessary for women over 40.

What should I do if my mammogram is abnormal?

Your doctor will receive a report outlining the concerns and conditions noted on the abnormal mammogram. Included in the report will be recommendations for further diagnostic evaluation and studies. You should follow the recommendations as closely and quickly as possible. Upon additional reviews and a more comprehensive evaluation, most suspicious areas are found to be benign.

Can I get additional imaging at City of Hope?

At City of Hope, we have the ability to do additional mammographic film views of the breast, as well as ultrasound and MRI scanning, should there be any concern with initial findings.

Can I get a biopsy at City of Hope?

All types of minimally invasive biopsies are available and can be performed at City of Hope. By offering on-site services such as these, we let you have the biopsy scheduled and learn the results more quickly.

Do you offer pap smears or gynecologic exams?

City of Hope does not offer routine pap smears. However, a referral can be made to our gynecology department if you are: already a patient, at high risk, taking Tamoxifen with irregular bleeding, or having abnormal side effects from other hormonal therapy.

Is digital mammography better than regular mammography?

A recently completed study concludes that digital mammography is more effective for detecting cancer in younger women and those with dense breast tissue. For other women, there was no significant difference between digital and conventional mammography. This large multi-institution study, sponsored by the American College of Radiology, was the first to show superiority of digital mammography. Prior smaller studies had shown the two methods to be equally effective in finding cancer.

Should I only have my mammograms performed at a facility that offers digital mammography?

The majority of hospitals and breast imaging centers do not yet offer digital mammography, so your provider options will be more limited. If you are in one of the groups for which digital mammography may be more effective (under age 50, have dense breasts, or are pre-menopausal), you may want to consider having your mammogram at a facility that offers digital mammography. Otherwise, there is no reason for you to choose digital over conventional mammography.

Does City of Hope offer digital mammography?

Yes, City of Hope offers digital mammography and also computer-assisted detection software to further aid radiologists in detecting cancerous changes on mammography. We hope this information helps you to make an informed decision about mammography that is right for you. If you have any other questions, please feel free to speak to one of our imaging technologists at the Women's Health Center.