Additional radiation is no longer a concern, with new software that lowers the radiation dose of 3D technology. Additionally, 3D is allowing for better breast cancer detection with greater accuracy and improved image quality. That means we're finding the cancers that need to be found and calling back fewer women along the way—ultimately reducing anxiety and costs. And most insurance plans cover the exam at 100%. Please contact your provider to confirm coverage and ask any questions).
A mammogram is a special low-dose x-ray of the breast. Screening mammography can detect breast cancer as early as two years before a lump can be felt. This simple 20-minute appointment is for women with no symptoms of breast disease, and no physician's referral is needed. Breast experts agree that women 40+ should schedule screening mammogram appointments every 12 months. Most insurance plans cover these at 100%.
At Charlotte Radiology, all screening mammograms are performed using 3D technology, or tomosynthesis. Instead of producing flat images, 3D mammography generates multiple image "slices," reducing obstructions and allowing radiologists to view the breast in layers. It's the most advanced technology available in breast cancer detection, with significant benefits for all women:
- Lower radiation dose, with new software that makes a 3D exam comparable to a 2D exam in terms of radiation exposure.
- Convenient and accessible, with all of our breast center locations (including our mobile breast centers!) utilizing 3D technology across the board.
- Less patient anxiety and costs, with a 15.4% decrease in callbacks* and the related stress and expenses of follow-up exams.
- Better detection and greater accuracy, with 41.3% increase in the cancer detection rate.*
- Improved image quality for all women, but especially those with dense breast tissue.
- Insurance coverage, with most insurance plans covering 3D screening mammograms at 100%. [NOTE: We always encourage patients to check their individual benefits.]
If you are experiencing a worrisome lump, changes in the breast skin, nipple discharge, or if you have a personal history of breast cancer, your physician should order a more comprehensive exam, called a diagnostic mammogram.
* Charlotte Radiology clinical data from 50,000+ screening exams performed in 2017.
- To help minimize discomfort during your exam, schedule your mammogram during the two weeks following your menstrual cycle (when breasts are less tender).
- Please bring a disc or films from any prior mammograms, if done at a facility other than Charlotte Radiology. If you would like Charlotte Radiology to request these on your behalf, please fill out our medical records release form. (NOTE: Please complete this form one month prior to your appointment, as it could take up to three weeks to obtain films from out of state.)
- Please bring any pertinent history to your appointment: prior surgeries, hormone use, family or personal history of breast cancer.
- On the day of the examination, do not wear talcum powder, deodorant, lotion or perfume under your arms or on your breasts. These substances can cause artifacts on your mammogram, making the images harder to interpret. Deodorant will be available after your exam.
- Wear two-piece clothing so that you only have to remove your top and bra for the examination.
Most mammogram appointments take less than 20 minutes and require no real preparation. Your mammogram will be performed by a mammography-certified, female technologist. After you check in, you will be escorted to a private dressing room, where you will be asked to undress from the waist up. You will be given a gown that opens in the front. The technologist will ask you several questions, so she can better understand your history and/or any problems you may be having.
During your appointment, breast compression may cause some brief discomfort, but it shouldn't be painful. Breast compression helps facilitate better x-rays by flattening the breast so that the maximum amount of tissue can be examined. This allows for a lower X-ray dose, and holding the breast in place prevents blurring on the mammogram.
Patients and their primary care physicians receive a report within a week or two. Some women—most often women receiving their first mammogram—are called back for additional mammographic views; however, this shouldn't be cause for alarm. Oftentimes more views are needed to confirm that an abnormality is simply benign. A member of our staff will contact you personally if a diagnostic mammogram is needed.
Mammography is the best screening tool for breast cancer available today; however, mammograms do not detect all breast cancers. In these cases, Charlotte Radiology has all of the tools available to provide an accurate diagnosis:
- Screening Breast Ultrasound
- Breast Needle Biopsy (Stereotactic, Ultrasound and MRI-guided)
- Lymph Node Biopsy
- Dedicated Breast MRI
- Cyst Aspiration
Strict guidelines ensure that mammogram equipment is safe and uses the lowest dose of radiation possible. Thanks to a new software that lowers radiation dose, 3D mammograms performed at Charlotte Radiology no longer expose patients to additional radiation. Instead, our 3D mammograms utilize low-dose radiation that is comparable to a traditional mammogram.
If you'd like to make an appointment at any of the above locations, click here or call 704-367-2232 (toll-free: 877-362-2232). No physician referral is necessary for a 3D screening mammogram; however, we do require that you provide your primary physician's name, so that we may send a copy of your results.