Breast care center in St. Petersburg, Florida

At Palms of Pasadena Hospital, we recognize the importance of breast cancer screening, and we make sure women in Pinellas County have easy access to breast health care and the imaging services they need. Through education and screenings, we help women detect breast cancer early, when it is most treatable.

According to the American Cancer Society, all women should have a baseline screening mammogram between 35 and 40 years old and receive annual screenings beginning at 40 years old.

To schedule a mammogram, please call us at (727) 341-7890.

Detection of breast cancer

When detected early, breast cancer treatment success rates are positive. There are several tools available to help in the early detection of breast cancer, including:

  • Performing breast self-exams every month beginning at 20 years old
  • Receiving clinical exams by a healthcare professional every year
  • Receiving regular, yearly mammograms beginning at 40 years old
  • Seeing your doctor immediately if you identify a warning sign, such as a lump, pain or nipple discharge
  • Talking with your doctor about reducing your risk through healthy diet and exercise

Women with certain risk factors should discuss additional screening services with their physician.

Risk factors for breast cancer

There are several common risk factors associated with breast cancer, including:

  • Alcohol consumption of two or more drinks per day
  • Early menstrual onset
  • Family or personal history of breast cancer
  • Late menopause onset
  • Use of hormone replacement therapy
  • Use of oral contraceptives

Breast imaging and diagnostics

A mammogram is a specialized X-ray of the breasts. It is used in detecting and diagnosing breast diseases, including breast cancer. A screening mammogram is a preventive examination for women who are exhibiting no symptoms of breast disease. Screening mammograms typically provide two views of each breast.

A diagnostic mammogram is performed when an abnormality is identified on a screening mammogram. One may also be performed when a patient is experiencing symptoms, such as a breast mass, nipple discharge, breast pain or skin irritation.

Screening and diagnostic mammograms are safe procedures that use low doses of radiation to create high-quality, detailed X-rays. Mammograms are able to detect an abnormal breast mass up to two years before it can be felt in a physical exam.

Digital mammograms

At Palms of Pasadena Hospital, our imaging department performs full field digital mammograms. Digital mammograms use computers and specially designed digital detectors to produce breast images on a high-resolution monitor. These images can be transmitted and stored just like computer files. Digital mammograms produce images for the technologist to review within seconds.

Benefits of digital mammography

The breast is composed primarily of soft tissue that, when X-rayed, can create a smoky, hazy image. This can make it difficult to see microcalcifications—tiny "spots"— and other subtle signs of early breast cancer.

Being able to manipulate breast images is a primary benefit of digital mammography. It uses high-resolution monitors that allow physicians to adjust the brightness, change the contrast and magnify areas of interest.

Digital mammograms also significantly reduce the need for image retakes that are more common with screen-film mammograms. This not only saves patients valuable time, but it reduces exposure to X-rays.

Additionally, digital mammograms are electronic, meaning images can be transmitted easily and quickly. Images are stored, copied and transmitted without risk of lost information.

Breast biopsy

If an abnormality in your mammogram is detected, our physicians will conduct a breast biopsy. This involves removing a small sample of breast tissue for analysis to determine if breast cancer is present. Most biopsies do not result in a cancer diagnosis, but it is the best method to identify if cells are cancerous.

Mammography frequently asked questions

We want you to feel confident about the process and care you will receive when you come to Palms of Pasadena Hospital for breast imaging. Below, we have outlined and answered several of our patients' frequently asked questions.

How do I prepare for a mammogram?

If you have received mammograms at a different facility, please arrange to have previous mammograms, reports and any treatment information forwarded to our facility.

On the day of your mammogram, do not wear deodorant, powder or cream under your arms. These substances may interfere with the image quality of your mammogram.

How is a mammogram performed?

Prior to your exam, you will undress above the waist. A wrap will be provided to wear during your mammogram. You and a breast imaging technologist will be the only people present during the exam. The technologist will position each breast, one at a time. The breast is then compressed, and the X-ray is taken.

If you are having a screen-film mammogram, the technologist will take all of the X-rays needed to complete your examination. They will then develop the films before you leave to ensure image quality and make sure the correct view and exposure were captured.

If you are having a digital mammogram, X-rays will appear on the technologist's computer screen. The technologists will ensure image quality and correct positioning before performing the next X-ray.

A mammogram typically lasts 20 minutes.

Are mammograms painful?

Mammograms may cause discomfort during compression of the breast. Compression is necessary to obtain better quality X-rays through:

  • Flattening the breast to examine the maximum amount of tissue
  • Using a lower X-ray dose, as X-ray beams pass through a thinner amount of breast tissue
  • Holding the breast in place to prevent blurring caused by motion

If you have sensitive breasts, it is recommended to schedule your mammogram at a time of the month when your breasts are less tender⁠—generally the week after your period.