Mammography Offers Early Detection of Breast Cancer

Skagit Regional Health now offers 3D mammography in two convenient locations, in Mount Vernon and Arlington. 

Mammography is a specific type of breast imaging that uses low-dose x-rays to detect breast cancer early – before women experience symptoms – when it is most treatable. Mammography plays an integral part in the early detection of breast cancer because it can show changes in the breast up to two years before you or your physician can feel a noticeable lump.

Recommendations for woman at average risk include:

  • 40 - 44 years: Option to begin annual mammography, obtain baseline to determine breast density.
  • 45 - 54 years: Annual mammography.
  • 55+ years: Discuss option of annual or every-other-year mammography.

Women are considered at increased risk for developing breast cancer if any of the following are true:

  • A mother or sister
    (a first-degree relative) has had breast cancer
  • Previous breast biopsy
    normal (benign) or abnormal (atypia)
  • Having dense breast
    (determined by a baseline mammogram)
  • Previous radiation treatments
    to the chest


There are other risk factors for breast cancer so it is important to review your health history with your provider to determine your level of risk.

3D Mammography Provides Detailed Evaluation of the Breast

MammographyBreast tomosynthesis, also known as 3D mammography, is a recently developed type of breast imaging which goes beyond the traditional mammography test providing more detailed evaluation of the breast. This has been shown to increase the sensitivity of mammography studies and decrease the number of false positives.

Breast Biopsies Analyze for Cancer Cells

Sometimes a lump in the breast is found to be benign, meaning it is an irregularity, but not cancer. If your lump or lesion cannot be confirmed as benign through physical examination or imaging tests, a breast biopsy is required. This procedure will obtain tissue samples for analysis by pathologists to determine whether the area of concern contains cancerous cells. Because most of these lesions are small at the time of detection, diagnostic image-guidance is necessary to ensure the most accurate biopsy sampling. Biopsies may be performed with any of the following diagnostic imaging guidance techniques:

  • MRI
  • Ultrasound
  • X-ray

Comprehensive Breast Cancer Diagnostic Services

Skagit Regional Health offers comprehensive diagnostic services for every phase of breast cancer detection. Other diagnostic services for breast cancer include:

  • Breast ultrasound
  • Breast MRI
  • Stereotactic breast needle biopsy

For More Information About Mammography

To schedule your annual mammogram please call 360-814-8208 for an appointment at the Women's Imaging Center in Mount Vernon or Cascade Valley Hospital in Arlington. Our team can help you schedule a routine mammogram or an advanced breast imaging study, based on your individual needs.