Everything You Need to Know About Your Mammogram

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Routine screening mammograms do not require an order from a referring physician. However, if you are having new breast problems, have a recent history of breast cancer or need a follow-up to a previous mammogram, an order is required from your referring physician.

  • While mammograms don’t prevent breast cancer, they can save lives by detecting breast abnormalities without signs or symptoms in their earliest stages. Early detection reduces the risk of dying from the disease by 25-30% or more.

  • The American College of Radiologists and Society of Breast Surgeons recommend women begin their annual breast cancer screenings at age 40.

  • On the day of your mammogram, please do not use any lotions, powders or deodorant in the underarm or breast area. Because you will have to undress from the waist up, we suggest you wear a comfortable 2-piece outfit.

  • You’ll need to bring your driver’s license and proof of insurance, if applicable. The Affordable Care Act dictates that routine screening mammograms be given without a co-pay or deductible. If this is not your first mammogram, also bring your previous images or have them sent to the facility prior to your appointment for comparison purposes. We can help you with this process if needed.

  • Discomfort during a mammogram varies from patient to patient. Most women, however, tolerate the exam well. The technologist will work with you to try to make your experience as comfortable as possible.

  • Mammograms do use a small amount of radiation, but special care is taken to make sure it’s the lowest amount possible. For most women, the benefits of mammography outweigh the potential risk of radiation exposure.

  • 3D mammography, also known as tomosynthesis, produces 3D images of your breast tissue in 1 mm slices, allowing for greater visibility of breast tissue. It can be done in conjunction with the traditional 2D mammogram. State law now requires that 3D screenings be covered by insurance in most instances. Please confirm with your insurance company regarding these benefits.

  • All women who are eligible for traditional 2D mammograms are also eligible for 3D mammography. Additionally, research has shown that 3D mammography is particularly helpful for women with dense breasts. However, we recommend that you check with your insurance provider to ensure it is covered under your plan.

  • In most cases, screening mammograms are read within a few hours of your exam. Your results will be provided by email. If an email address is not provided, a paper copy will be mailed to your home.

  • Screenings are meant to detect abnormalities that might exist. When abnormalities or changes in the appearance of the breast tissue are detected, additional mammography images and/or ultrasound may be required. In most cases, such abnormalities do not indicate breast cancer.

Mammograms and the COVID-19 vaccine: Based on guidance from the Society of Breast Imaging, Baylor Scott & White recommends that patients schedule their routine screening mammograms either before receiving their first dose of the vaccine or at least four weeks after receiving their final immunization.* This recommendation applies only to routine screening mammograms and not diagnostic mammograms.

*In some cases, the COVID-19 vaccine may cause temporary swelling of tissue in the armpit. While this swelling is harmless, it can interfere with the quality of a screening mammogram.