What is a Mammography?

A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray picture of the breast. Mammograms can help detect breast cancer when it is in its early, most treatable stages. Get the facts about mammograms.


FDA regulates the standards for mammography machines and training for the people who give mammograms. FDA also certifies the places that give mammograms in the U.S., under the Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA).

Know Before You Go

Follow these tips to help you prepare for your mammogram.

  • Don’t wear deodorant, perfume, lotion or powder under your arms or on your breasts on the day of your exam. Foreign particles could show up in an x-ray.
  • Let the staff know if you have breast implants. They may need to take more pictures than a regular mammogram.
  • Bring prior mammograms or have them sent to the center if possible.
  • Tell the clinic if you have physical disabilities that may make it hard for you to sit up, lift your arms, or hold your breath.


Don’t Be Misled

There are lots of myths about mammography. Learn the facts to protect yourself.

Thermograms are Not a Substitute for Mammograms

Thermograms produce an image that shows the patterns of heat and blood flow near the surface of the body. FDA has no evidence to support the claims that thermograms can replace mammograms and that thermography can find breast cancer years before it can be detected by mammography.

Get the facts about thermograms.

Nipple Aspirators are Not a Substitue for Mammograms

Nipple aspirate is a test in which a breast pump is used to collect fluid from a woman’s nipple to screen for abnormal and potentially cancerous cells. FDA has no evidence to support claims that nipple aspirate tests, when used on their own, are an effective screening tool for any medical condition, including the detection of breast cancer or other breast disease.