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Mammography FAQ
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Mammography FAQ

Q: Do I need a doctor’s order(prescription) for my mammogram?
A: Yes. You must visit your referring physician for a clinical breast exam and obtain a prescription for your mammogram.

If you are returning for a three (3) or six (6) month follow-up appointment recommended by the radiologist, you will need a prescription from your referring physician. If you are returning as a “call-back” for additional views, a physician referral is required.

Q: Can I schedule another procedure on the same day as my Mammogram?
A: Yes.  Many of our patients schedule back to back routine screening exams, such as a bone densitometry study, a mammogram, and an ultrasound.  A bone density study is often done in conjunction with mammography as part of a referring physician’s health screening program since osteoporosis is an increasing area of concern, especially for women.  A physician order for each of the exams is required.

Q: How long will it take for a mammogram and a bone density study?
A: For a screening mammogram you should allow approximately 15-20 minutes. For a bone density study, allow approximately 15 minutes.

Q: How often should I get a mammogram?
A: Our facility follows the American Cancer Society’s recommendations for mammograms. However you should consult with your referring physician about when to start and how often you should have a mammogram.

Q: Why do I need to obtain my old mammogram films?
A: The radiologist will compare the prior images for any changes. If any questionable areas are noted on your current mammogram, the radiologist may need to investigate the areas further to see if they were present on the prior images and are currently stable. If the radiologist requires the prior images and they are not available, the radiologist may recommend additional imaging be performed.

Q: Why do I have to complete paperwork each time I come in?
A: This is necessary to ensure our records are current and that no changes took place in your personal or family history since the last time we saw you.

Q: What if I have breast implants?
A: If you have breast implants, inform the scheduler when you make your appointment.  Our technologist and radiologist are experienced in imaging and interpreting patients with implants.  Due to the implant, several special views must be taken to allow visualization of both the breast tissue and the implant. Patients with implants should always inform the technologist performing the exam that they have implants.

Q: When will my doctor get the mammogram results?
A: Your screening mammogram will be interpreted by the radiologist within twenty-four (24) hours after your exam. The report will be sent immediately to your physician. Your diagnostic mammogram will be reviewed immediately following your exam and the results discussed with you and sent to your physicians within 24 hours.

The time period and process of interpreting your mammogram can be compromised by the absence of your prior mammogram images. If you are a new patient, please be certain your prior mammogram film/images/CDs are made available to us at least two weeks prior to the date of your exam.

Q: Does a mammogram take the place of a manual breast examination?
A: No. The best chance for early detection of breast cancer is to combine periodic mammograms with manual breast examination by an experienced doctor. The manual exam and the mammogram complement one another to offer the most comprehensive defense against breast cancer. You should also continue your monthly self examinations.

Q: What is a cyst?
A: Cysts are harmless accumulations of fluid in the breast (or other tissue or organs).  Cysts do not become cancer or increase the risk of cancer.

Q: What are calcifications?
A: Calcifications (also called microcalcifications) are mineral deposits in the breast that may be caused by dried-up secretions, trauma, reabsorbed blood, or dead tissue cells. Dietary calcium levels do not have any relationship to breast calcifications. If a woman has calcifications in the breast she may continue calcium supplements which can be helpful in preventing bone loss, osteoporosis and fracture. Calcifications are not equivalent to cancer, but do signal changes within the breast. Certain patterns of calcifications can be associated with cancer or benign breast disease.

Q: What is a Fibroadenoma (FA)?
A: Fibroadenoma is the most common benign, solid growth in breasts. A Fibroadenoma is round, movable and firm. A Fibroadenoma has no significant risk of becoming cancer and does not put a patient at increased risk of breast cancer.

Q: What is Fibrocystic breast change?
A: Fibrocystic breast change is single or multiple lumps in the breasts. The lumps are often harmless and quite common. Fibrocystic disease, is a term that is often misused in breast cancer screening, and can only be diagnosed after a biopsy or needle aspiration of the lumps. Fibrocystic change in most women is common.

Q: What if I am called back for more images?
A: Often women are distressed to be called back for a diagnostic mammogram after their screening mammogram.  Most of these recalls have negative results. If a “call-back” is required, we will make every effort to contact you between 24-48 hours after the screening exam.

It may be comforting to know the approximate statistics of these “call-backs” nationally. Of every 1,000 U.S. women who are screened, about 7% (70) will be called back for a diagnostic session (although some studies estimate the percentage to be higher). About 10 of these individuals will be referred for a biopsy with the remaining 60 found to be benign.  Of the 10 referred for biopsy, about 3.5 will have a cancer and 6.5 will not. Of the 3.5 who do have cancer, about 2 have a low stage cancer that will be essentially cured after treatment.

Q: What if I am recommended for a biopsy?
A: Don’t panic! While imaging tests like a mammogram and breast ultrasound can find a suspicious area, they cannot tell whether the area is cancer. A biopsy is the only way to determine if an area is cancerous. A biopsy involves removing some cells from the suspicious area for review under a microscope. A biopsy can be done using a needle or with surgery to remove part of or the entire tumor. The type of biopsy depends on the size and location of the lump or area. The American Cancer Society web site (link to ) is an excellent resource to learn more about the different types of breast biopsies.

Q: What is Tomosynthesis?
A: Breast Tomosynthesis or 3D Mammography uses high-powered computing to convert digital breast images taken at different angles into a stack of very thin layers or slices thus building what is essentially a 3-Dimensional Mammogram. Tomosynthesis has revolutionized the way Radiologists view a mammogram.

Q: What happens during the exam?
A: During the Tomosynthesis part of the exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over the breast taking multiple breast images in just seconds. A computer then produces a 3D image of your breast tissue in one millimeter layers.

Q: Is compression used for 3D Mammography?
The same amount of compression that is used for 2-DMammography is applied for 3D Mammography.

Q: Is the 3D exam longer than the 2D Digital Mammogramexam?
A: Tomosynthesis only takes a few seconds. It is performed in conjunction with the 2D Mammogram. Approximately 4 seconds is added to each view. The whole procedure time should be approximately the same as a digital mammogram.

Q: Will 3D Tomosynthesis increase my chances of being a "callback"?
A: NO!!!! Now the radiologist can see breast tissue detail in a way never before possible. By viewing the breast one layer at a time fine details are more visible. Using Tomosynthesis and digital mammography together for screening will REDUCE not increase "callbacks".

Q: What is the Radiation dose?
A: The dose for a Tomosynthesis exam is essentially the same as a screen-film mammogram. The dose is well below the FDA government standard.

Q: Who qualifies for a 3D Tomosynthesis exam?
A: EVERYONE! A 3D Tomosynthesis study only needs the patient's permission. If your Doctor doesn't talk to you about a 3D mammogram you may still opt for the exam.

Q: Does my Insurance cover this exam?
A: No. At this time insurance companies do not cover this added procedure. At the present time there is no CPT code available.

Q: What is the out of pocket expense for 3D Mammography?
A: The cost is $50.00.