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Diagnostic Mammography

A mammogram is an X-ray exam that provides detailed images of the internal structure of the breast tissue of both men and women and can reveal changes that are too small for you or your doctor to feel. This means that many cancers can be found when still very small and haven’t yet spread, which is important for successful treatment.

A diagnostic mammogram exam may be requested to:

  • Examine symptoms of a breast abnormality.
  • Determine the cause of breast pain, nipple discharge, thickening of skin on the breast, or changes in the size or shape of the breast.
  • Evaluate the integrity of breast implants.
  • Detect, locate, and determine the stage of breast cancer, as well as assess the effects of chemotherapy.
  • Distinguish between scar tissue and recurrent tumours.
  • Investigate a possible abnormality shown on a screening mammography.
  • Follow up from previous breast imaging.

All of our locations, except Coventry Hills, feature the latest technology that makes the experience more comfortable. This includes the option for patient-assisted compression – a remote control that allows the patient to adjust the level of breast compression during the exam, under the supervision of the technologist.


  • If you experience breast tenderness, do not consume caffeine in the days leading up to the exam.
  • Schedule your appointment one week after your last menstruation to decrease breast tenderness.
  • Please tell us if you have any problems moving or if you have shoulder or chest pain.
  • Bathe or shower the day of your appointment.
  • Do not use deodorant, antiperspirant, lotion, or powder under the arms or near the breast area as they can affect imaging.
  • Wear a two-piece outfit (e.g., shirt and pants), so you can change for the exam more comfortably.
  • Please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment to allow enough time to check in with reception.
  • Bring photo identification and your provincial health card.
  • Take all prescribed medications as directed.
  • Please do not bring children who require supervision.


  • You will be asked to remove your clothing from the waist up and given a robe.
  • In the exam room your technologist will ask you a number of questions regarding your personal and family history, as well as the reason for your exam.
  • Your technologist will move you to the correct position between two X-ray plates.
  • The surfaces will slowly move together, compressing the breast for a short time to minimize your discomfort. Compressing the breast is necessary to get the clearest image of your tissue using the least amount of radiation.
  • OPTIONAL: Once you have been correctly positioned by the technologist, you have the option to use a handheld remote to adjust the level of compression to what’s comfortable for you, under the supervision of the technologist. This will not affect the accuracy of the images and the technologist will ensure that the optimal level of compression is achieved for the clearest images.
  • Each breast will be imaged at least twice to create a top and side view for each one.
  • We will explain the process for receiving your results and if we need you back for additional imaging. You are then free to leave.


We do our best to have our radiologists interpret the information and forward the results to your doctor by the next business day.


One exam, per year, is covered under your Alberta Health Care Plan for women age 40 and above. It is not currently offered at our Saskatchewan clinics. If you are younger, or need more frequent examinations, please consult your doctor.


Please ensure that you bring your requisition with you to your appointment.


15-30 minutes