woman getting mammogram

Mammography is a specific type of imaging that uses a low-dose X-ray system to examine breasts. A mammography exam, called a mammogram, is used to aid in the early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women. Markham Stouffville Hospital offers the latest in digital mammography equipment at both sites. Digital mammography is one of the most advanced technologies available today. At Markham Stouffville Hospital, digital mammography uses a specially designed digital camera and a computer to produce an image that is displayed on a high-resolution computer monitor.

The Markham site also has the latest technology – breast tomosynthesis. During the tomosynthesis scan, multiple low-dose images of the breast are acquired at different angles. These images are then used to produce a series of one millimeter thick slices that can be viewed as a three dimensional reconstruction of the breast. Tomosynthesis is used for some select cases – patients with previous breast cancer, patients with new breast concerns, patients called back for extra imaging and patients who meet the criteria for high risk OBSP screening.

Diagnostic Mammography

Diagnostic mammography is used to evaluate a patient with abnormal clinical findings—such as a breast lump or lumps—that have been found by the woman or her doctor.

Screening Mammography

Screening mammography plays an important part in early detection of breast cancers. And is the best screening test for most women. Women aged 50-74 are encouraged to have a mammogram every two years to detect changes in breast tissue that are too small to feel or see.
Regular screening mammograms can find cancer when it is small, which means:

  • There is a better chance of treating the cancer successfully.
  • It is less likely to spread.
  • There may be more treatment options.
  • It could save your life

To schedule an appointment call 905-472-7020.

What is OBSP?

Markham Stouffville Hospital is an Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) partner. OBSP is an organized breast cancer screening program that is funded by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and managed by Cancer Care Ontario.The OBSP offers important advantages for women and their primary care providers, including scheduling of all screening appointments, sending recall and result letters to women, and arranging follow-up services for women with results that show they need more tests. Women who are screened for breast cancer within an organized screening program like the OBSP further benefit by participating in a program that undergoes ongoing quality assurance, program monitoring and evaluation to ensure that its clients receive high-quality screening. In addition, all OBSP sites are accredited with the Canadian Association of Radiologists Mammography Accreditation Program.

Both sites of the Markham Stouffville Hospital are affiliated with the OBSP.

What You Should Know

Before Your Visit
  • Do not schedule your mammogram for the week before your period if your breasts are usually tender during this time. The best time for a mammogram is one week after your period.
  • Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts on the day of the exam. These can appear on the mammogram as calcium spots.
  • If possible, obtain prior mammograms and bring them to your next appointment for the radiologist to view at your current exam.
During Your Visit

During your mammogram, a specially qualified female radiologic technologist (MRT) will position your breast in the mammography unit. Your breast will be placed on a special platform and compressed with a paddle (often made of clear Plexiglas or other plastic). The technologist will slowly compress your breast as needed.

Breast compression is necessary to:

  • Even out the breast thickness so that all of the tissue can be visualized.
  • Spread out the tissue so that small abnormalities are less likely to be obscured by overlying breast tissue.
  • Allow the use of a lower X-ray dose since a thinner amount of breast tissue is being imaged.
  • Hold the breast still in order to minimize blurring of the image caused by motion.
  • Reduce X-ray scatter to increase sharpness of picture.


You will be asked to change positions between images. The routine views are a top-to-bottom view and an angled side view. The process will be repeated for the other breast.

After your visit

A radiologist will analyze the images and send a signed report to your primary care or referring physician, who will discuss the results with you.

If you are part of the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP), the results of your mammogram will be sent to you as well as your family physician within 10 days of your appointment.

Click here to view aftercare for your OBSP visit.

 Care providers

Both Markham Stouffville Hospital and Uxbridge Cottage Hospital are accredited with CAR (Canadian Association of Radiologists).

Your procedure will be reported by a radiologist who specializes in interpreting the results of medical imaging exams.  Your mammogram imaging will be done by a friendly and professional female registered MRT (medical radiation technologist).

The mammography department also works in conjunction with our Breast Health Centre.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should women have breast screening?

The Ontario Breast Screening Program recommends that women aged 50 to 74 years have a screening mammogram every two years. Women aged 30 to 69 years who have been identified as being at high risk for breast cancer should have a screening mammogram and breast MRI every year.

What is breast density?

Breasts are made up of a mixture of fibrous, glandular and fatty tissues. Breasts are considered dense if there is a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue and not much fat. Density may decrease with age, but there is little change in most women.

If I have dense breasts, do I still need a mammogram?

A mammogram is the only medical imaging screening test proven to reduce breast cancer deaths. Many cancers are seen on mammograms even if you have dense breast tissue.

Are there any tests that are better than a mammogram?

Studies have shown that ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can help find breast cancers that can’t be seen on mammogram. However both MRI and ultrasound show more findings that are not cancer which can result in added testing, stress and unnecessary biopsies. Mammography remains to be the gold standard for breast cancer screening for most women.