Mammogram Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a Screening Mammogram?

A screening mammogram is an important yearly test that detects breast cancer in its earliest and most treatable stages. A screening mammogram can find breast abnormalities two years before you or your doctor can manually feel any changes in your breast tissue. 

The test consists of x-rays or 3D imaging that capture pictures of the breast from several different angles to complete a comprehensive view of the entire breast. After the test, a radiologist will interpret the images and inform the patient within 30 days or less of the results. Most of the time, the results are normal and the patient can wait another year before getting her next test. By adhering to your yearly schedule and using the same mammography facility, radiologists have the added benefit of comparing your current test to previous ones, helping them more easily pinpoint tiny abnormalities from year to year.

Is mammography painful?

Although most women experience painless mammography, women report different levels of discomfort during the procedure. Many women report some minor discomfort when the breasts are compressed between the clear plastic paddles during imaging; however, as soon as the pressure is released the pain goes away. Tell your technician if you are highly uncomfortable during your test. The technician can help you by repositioning your breasts to find a more comfortable position.

The following factors can affect the amount of pain you feel during a mammogram:

  • Your breast size
  • Where you are in your menstrual cycle when you schedule your screening
  • The experience of your technician

Painless mammography is possible when you take steps to schedule your mammogram at the most optimal time. For most women, the best time is anytime in the first week after the end of your menstrual cycle. If possible, don’t schedule your screening the week before your cycle because that’s when breasts are most tender and susceptible to pain.

To increase the chances of a painless screening, take a dose of Tylenol or Advil before your mammogram.

Additionally, our spa-like experience with warm robes, free beverages, and relaxing music and imagery help relax patients and relieve anxiety.

Our patients agree:

  • “Dawn was very professional and engaging while making my experience comfortable. I loved the sounds and images of the calming ocean videos.” -Deb T.
  • After years of going elsewhere for my mammograms, I felt so much more comfortable here! The technicians and girls at the front desk made me comfortable and relaxed.” -Janis W.
  • The mammography was fast and the room, with the beautiful beach scenes, was soothing.” -Kim
  • What a great environment and experience for a usually cold clinical procedure.” -Lydia K.
  • I was very nervous and apprehensive about going for the mammo and from the first phone call thru the actual scan everyone made me feel at ease. The technician was very understanding and completed the test in 15 minutes.” -Georgette O.
  • Made what could be uncomfortable, like going to spa!” -Aimee G.

How much does a mammogram screening cost?

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) requires all health insurance plans, Medicare and Medicaid to cover yearly mammograms with no co-payment for women age 40 and older.

So at PURE Mammography, women with health insurance have no out-of-pocket expense for a screening 3D mammogram.

For uninsured women, our mammogram center offers low-cost mammograms that are the most affordable in the area.

Do I need a prescription / doctor to refer me for a screening mammogram? Do I need to provide you with the name of my doctor to send the report to?

No doctor referral or prescription is needed at PURE for a screening mammogram. Our staff will request the name of your health care provider to send a copy of your mammogram report to. You will also be receiving a letter explaining your mammogram results written in layperson terms.

We encourage all women to be examined annually by a health care provider in addition to undergoing annual screening mammography. If you do not currently have a physician, we can refer you to a physician experienced in breast care for follow up and a clinical breast exam. If you decline our referral, we will send you a copy of your mammogram report, along with a letter explaining the results in layperson terms.

What if I receive an abnormal mammogram report?

If your report says you need additional imaging, don’t panic! In the large majority of women (around 80%), the extra views and/or ultrasound shows no abnormality and no need for further testing. These false alarms are often due to overlapping layers of normal breast tissue, which can sometimes produce unclear results.

The staff at PURE will call you to arrange for follow-up testing as soon as possible at any of our 7 affiliated Medical Arts Radiology Women’s Imaging Centers located throughout Long Island. These full-service offices perform diagnostic mammography, breast ultrasound, MRI and minimally invasive needle biopsy. All of Medical Arts Radiology’s Women’s Imaging Centers are designated as Breast Imaging Centers of Excellence by the American College of Radiology.

Is any preparation necessary for a mammogram?

No preparation is necessary.

If you are scheduling your mammogram ahead of time, we suggest you don’t wear deodorant, powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts. If you forgot, or if you just stopped in for an exam without an appointment, don’t worry. Our staff will just ask that you wipe this off prior to the exam.

If you’re scheduling your exam and have had prior mammograms performed at another center, please arrange with that facility to get a CD copy of your mammogram. Bring these with you the day of your exam or you can mail them to us ahead of time. If you come to PURE without your prior studies, don’t worry. Our staff can obtain your records for you.

Although there is very little preparation required, you can learn more about what to do and what not to do before your mammogram to make your experience even more comfortable and convenient.

Do I need an appointment?

Appointments are optional. If you have no appointment and we are busy, continue shopping and we will text you when you’re next. Or, relax in our beautiful lounge area, listen to soothing music, and have a café latte. The exam takes less than 15 minutes, so you’ll be on your way very soon.

Patient Testimonial

(Google review)

“This is my third review yes third! This is how wonderful these women are and the doctors at this facility- I will tell you name by name! Felicia the overall manager is a gem she is quick to help her clients and make sure the customer is taken care of! Linda is wonderful all around sweet and helpful! Dawn is amazing and helps provide great customer service and Paige too! My favorites are ultrasound tech Dominica and tech Irene! Doctors are great and quick to ensure the reports are read and sent out! I travel over an hour to this facility for these reasons! You will never find more lovely caring people than these ladies!! God bless you all! Can’t wait to see you all soon! ❤️  ”    -Anita V.

What if I had my prior mammogram at another facility?

If you had your last mammogram at a hospital or other mammogram testing location, don’t worry. Our experienced staff can get your previous records and films for you. That’s just one of the many ways that PURE helps to make screening mammograms simple and convenient.

My breast density is mentioned in the mammogram results. Why is this important?

Breasts are made up of a mixture of fibrous and glandular tissue and fatty tissue. Your breasts are considered dense if you have a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue but not much fat.

Breast density is determined by the radiologist who reads your mammogram. There are four categories of breast density:

  • Fatty – totally made up of fatty tissue
  • Scattered – more fat than glandular tissue
  • Heterogeneously Dense – mostly dense tissue or areas of very dense tissue
  • Extremely Dense – almost all dense tissue

Women who have dense breast tissue have a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer than women with average dense breast tissue. Dense breasts also make it more difficult for doctors to spot cancer on mammograms.

If you have dense breasts, please talk to your doctor. Together, you can decide which, if any, additional screening exams are right for you. Studies have shown that ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can help find breast cancers that can’t be seen on a mammogram. However, both MRI and ultrasound, show more findings that are not cancer, which can result in added testing and unnecessary biopsies. Also, the cost of ultrasound and MRI may not be covered by insurance.

Women who have dense breasts should still have an annual screening mammogram. Many cancers are seen on mammograms even if you have dense breast tissue. Mammography is the only medical imaging screening test proven to reduce breast cancer deaths.

When should I begin screening mammography?

Every major American medical organization with expertise in breast cancer care, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), American Cancer Society, American College of Radiology, and Society of Breast Imaging recommend that women start getting annual mammograms at age 40. Regular screening mammograms have been shown to markedly reduce the number of women who die from breast cancer.

If you have increased risk for breast cancer due to family history or other factors, speak with your doctor about starting screening earlier than age 40.

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What age do you stop getting mammograms?

According to The American Cancer Society, women should continue mammograms as long as they’re healthy and have a life expectancy of at least 10 more years.

Can I have a mammogram if I have breast implants?

Yes, you can have a mammogram. Patients with implants undergo screening mammography routinely without any problems. In addition to standard mammogram views, our technologist will also perform special images which displace the breast tissue in front of the implant in order to better evaluate the breast tissue. It is extremely rare for breast implants to be injured during a mammogram. The benefits of mammography in the early detection of breast cancer far outweigh this risk.

What if I find a lump in My Breast?

Contact your provider if you find lumpiness in one breast, feel something different in the tissue, or feel a definite lump. Sometimes the lumpiness may be due to menstrual changes. But there may be reason for concern.

It’s normal to be upset if you find a lump. But it’s important to contact your provider right away. Remember that most breast lumps are benign. This means they are not cancer.

At PURE Mammography, we only see women for screening exams. If you currently have a breast complaint, such as a palpable lump, nipple discharge or skin changes, we will refer you to one of our affiliated Women’s Imaging Centers at Medical Arts Radiology for a complete diagnostic mammogram and additional testing, as needed.

What if I have a breast complaint, such as a palpable mass, nipple discharge or skin changes?

At PURE Mammography, we only see women for screening exams. If you currently have a breast complaint, such as a palpable lump, nipple discharge or skin changes, we will refer you to one of our affiliated Women’s Imaging Centers at Medical Arts Radiology for a complete diagnostic mammogram and additional testing, as needed.

What about breast self-examination and clinical breast exams? Are they important too?

Mammography is the best test we have at this time to find breast cancer early, but it is not perfect. About 10% of cancers cannot be seen. So, it is still important for women to have their breasts examined on a regular basis by a healthcare professional.

You should also be familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can alert your healthcare professional if there are any changes. This is called breast self-awareness. Many experts now say that women should focus on breast self-awareness instead of doing a breast self-examination (BSE).

Breast self-awareness isn’t about following a certain method and schedule. Breast self-awareness is knowing what’s normal for your breasts. That way you can notice even small changes right away.

Call your provider if you find any changes in your breasts that concern you. These changes may include:

  • A lump
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk, especially a bloody discharge
  • Swelling
  • A change in size or shape
  • Skin irritation, such as redness, thickening, or dimpling of the skin
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit
  • Nipple problems, such as pain or redness

Why is family history important?

A woman has a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer over her lifetime, and women who have one or more first-degree relatives (mother/father, sister/brother, or daughter/son) diagnosed with breast cancer are at higher risk of developing cancer.

Women who are considered higher risk may need to begin mammography earlier, such as in these instances:

  • Women with strong family history:
    • First-degree relatives diagnosed with breast cancer especially at pre-menopausal ages (i.e. parent, sibling or child)
    • Parent or family member with one of the breast cancer genes (BRCA 1 or BRCA 2)
  • Women with a past history of receiving radiation to the chest between ages 10 and 30

The age of your relative(s) at diagnosis can guide decision-making regarding when you begin screening mammography. For example: if your mother was diagnosed in her 30s, your first mammogram would most likely be recommended earlier than age 40.

If your breast cancer risk is higher than average, talk to your doctor about a more aggressive breast cancer screening plan that makes the most sense for your particular situation. Your plan may include breast MRI or ultrasound in addition to mammograms.

Thank you! We will get back to you as soon as possible.

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