Learn About Mammograms
Being in the best breast health is really important. In fact, it could affect your overall well-being. To take an active role, beginning at age 40, talk to a doctor to see if you should get regular mammograms.
A breast self-exam is very different than a screening mammogram. A self-exam can be done at home while lying down, using the tips of your fingers to check for any changes in your breasts.
This type of exam does not replace a mammogram. Since you know best how your breasts normally look and feel, let a doctor know if you notice or feel anything different in your breasts, or if you have any questions.
You can learn more about self-exams here.
A clinical breast exam is when a doctor visually and manually examines your breasts and the lymph nodes in your lower neck and underarms. This type of exam does not replace a mammogram. Since you know best how your breasts normally look and feel, let a doctor know if you notice or feel anything different in your breasts or have any questions.
You can learn more about clinical breast exams here.
There are many benefits to getting a mammogram regularly. Keep the following in mind as you talk to a doctor:
- Women with increased risk of breast cancer, based on family or medical history, may benefit from regular mammograms before age 40
- Regular screenings help doctors keep track of any changes in your breasts
- Getting screened regularly offers a better chance of finding breast cancer before feeling a lump or having symptoms. In fact, breast cancer found early could mean earlier treatment, and could possibly stop the disease from spreading
It’s important to know that because mammograms use X-rays, you will be exposed to a low dose of radiation. If a screening mammogram does show something, it may not be cancer.
Please discuss any questions you have with a medical doctor.
The cost of a mammogram depends on a few things: insurance coverage, where your tests are completed, and if any extra tests are needed.
- If you have private insurance, the cost of a screening mammogram may be covered without copayments or deductibles. To confirm the exact cost and coverage, please contact your health insurance company or the screening facility directly
- If you don’t have insurance or are underinsured, there are several locations that offer free or low-cost mammograms
- If you need financial support, there may be resources available
The technician will place you in position, and your breasts are pressed (one at a time) for a few seconds between two firm surfaces. This is done to spread out the breast tissue and get the best views. For some women this part hurts, while others don't experience pain.
The technician will not give you the results. The results will be sent to your doctor who will then review the results with you. This may take some time, so try to be patient. Ask your doctor how you will receive your results (by mail, phone, or in person), so you will have a better idea of what to expect next.