Answers to your questions about breast health screenings
What age should I start screening mammograms? - Current recommendations suggest starting annual screening at age 40. Patients who have a mom or sister with premenopausal breast cancer should begin the screening process ten years before the age of a family member’s diagnosis. For example, if Mom was diagnosed at age 45, you should start screening at age 35.
Screening vs diagnostic mammography? - Screening mammograms are for women 40 and older, scheduling an annual breast cancer screening without any breast concerns.
Diagnostic mammography is for women experiencing problems reported to their doctors for a close follow-up after having breast cancer or a lumpectomy. Diagnostic mammography requires a doctor's order.
How do I prepare for my upcoming mammogram? - You can prepare for your mammogram by following the below suggestions:
- Do not use deodorant, powder, or lotion under your arms or on your breast before your mammogram
- Wear a blouse or top that is easy to remove
- Be prepared to complete a series of questions about your medical history
- Inform your technologists if you have breast implants
What to expect during a mammogram? - During your mammogram, your breasts will be compressed gently but firmly to provide a clear picture. This compression can be uncomfortable for some women but does not last very long. After your mammogram, you may have some skin discoloration due to the compression. This discoloration is temporary and normal. You can always speak to your technologists about any concerns you may have.
Do I need a referral for a mammogram? - Screening mammograms for women 40 and older, do not require referrals. Diagnostic mammograms require a referral from your healthcare provider. Speak to your primary care provider (PCP) or women’s health professional (OB-GYN) for guidance on your specific needs.
When and how is ultrasound used? - An ultrasound exam is used in conjunction with a mammogram for patients age 30 and older who may have a suspicious lump. The ultrasound will determine if the mammogram is showing a cystic or solid mass. Women younger than 30 are required to have an ultrasound exam rather than a mammogram to complete studies unless the radiologist decides it’s necessary to receive a mammogram.
I have breast health concerns —where should I start? - If you have breast health concerns such as lumps, drainage, or sensitivity, you should speak to your primary care provider (PCP) or women’s health professional (OB-GYN) before scheduling your upcoming mammogram. These breast concerns can appear for a variety of reasons and may impact an effective screening. Your PCP or OB-GYN can address your concerns and help you schedule your mammogram.
Will my insurance cover my mammogram? - Most insurance plans cover a screening mammogram within one or two years of your last mammogram. Deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses vary per insurance company for diagnostic mammograms. It’s important to call your insurance company to see if your mammogram is covered.
What if I don’t have insurance? - Many of our facilities have support from grant programs to help cover the cost of mammograms for those who are uninsured. Please call us to see if you qualify:
- Greater Charlotte area: 704-384-5250; en espanol: 704-384-8202
- Triad area: 336-397-6017