Importance of Mammograms

A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. Women with no signs or symptoms of breast cancer are checked for the disease with screening mammograms. If a lump or other symptom of breast cancer has been found, diagnostic mammograms are used. The importance of screening mammography is that can detect breast cancer at an early stage and ultimately increase the chance of saving your life.

What to Expect

  • For screening mammograms, you should not have any breast complaints, such as a new lump.
  • Avoid using deodorant, powders or perfume at the time of your visit.
  • The technologist will take routine views of both breasts.
  • Compression is necessary during mammography, but the technologist will make every effort to use the least compression needed to obtain good quality images.
  • If the compression is painful, please let the technologist know.
  • If you have breast tenderness, you may want to schedule your screening mammogram for some time during the first half of your menstrual cycle.
  • For some, if other medical conditions permit, taking aspirin or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory may also make the compression less uncomfortable.
  • After the images are obtained, you will be allowed to dress and leave.

The mammogram is generally read within two or three business days unless we are waiting to obtain outside films for comparison. If after interpretation, there is any area of possible abnormality (this occurs 1 out of 10 mammograms), you will be contacted to return for an additional evaluation which may consist of additional mammography and/or breast ultrasound. Most findings on screening mammography are found to be normal with the additional evaluation, although a few of these cases may require biopsy for final assessment. You will generally receive a letter indicating your results within 30 days of the mammogram. This letter is not intended as the official communication of results, but rather a back-up communication to minimize the chance that results are not relayed. Official communication regarding results will come from either the your provider, or in case there is a need for additional imaging, the Breast Center staff.

For patients who are making their own appointments for screening mammography:

  • Be prepared to provide the name of a current medical provider to whom the report can be sent and through whom any additional evaluation may be directed.
  • Bring films and records from past mammograms if done outside Vanderbilt. If you cannot bring those records, you will be asked to sign a release for Breast Center staff to obtain the records before interpretation of your mammogram.
  • Be aware of and follow your own insurance plans requirements. Most plans require a full 365 days between screening mammograms.

Insurance will be billed and all co-pays apply. Patients are responsible for following their plans requirements.

What We Offer

The Vanderbilt Breast Center is a comprehensive clinic that cares for all of your breast health needs on location at One Hundred Oaks. The Breast Center offers imaging using state-of-the-art digital equipment designed to produce high quality images with the lowest possible amount of radiation.We offer you routine screenings, and if something were to appear abnormal in your screening, we have the resources to help you with diagnostic services, oncology and plastic surgery in the same place.