Meet Liz, Screening Mammography patient

Like many women, she has yearly mammograms. Only Liz has hers recorded and broadcasted live over the radio. As a talk show host who reaches thousands of listeners in Charlotte, Liz believes the best way for women to overcome their fear of scheduling a mammogram is to let them hear one happening—a unique approach that puts even more women in tune with their body.

A mammogram is special low-dose x-ray of the breast. A physician called a radiologist uses the images to detect breast cancer, ideally as early as two years before a lump can be felt. Digital mammography has become the gold-standard for breast cancer screening and is one of the most recent advances for breast cancer detection. Charlotte Radiology was the first in the area to offer this technology.

Current guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the American Cancer Society (ACS), the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) recommend screening mammography every year for women, beginning at age 40.

Mammography is the only screening method that is consistently proven to reduce breast cancer deaths. In fact, it is the major reason breast cancer deaths have declined by 30% since 1990, when screening guidelines were enforced in the U.S. In addition, early detection through mammography gives women more treatment options with reduced surgery, better cosmetic outcomes, and often eliminates the need for harsh therapies. And since breast cancer found in women under age 50 is often more aggressive, it’s imperative to schedule your mammogram every 12 months.

Screening mammography
If performed annually as recommended, screening mammography is the key to detecting breast cancer early and saving lives. Women 40 years of age and older with no symptoms of breast disease, should schedule their screening mammogram appointments annually. A physician referral is not required for this exam however we must have the name of your physician to send your results.  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.

Diagnostic mammography
While a screening mammogram is encouraged each year for women who do not have significant breast symptoms, your doctor may order a diagnostic mammogram if you are experiencing a worrisome lump, changes in the breast skin, pain, nipple discharge, or if you have a personal history of breast cancer. Diagnostic mammography may also be performed if your screening mammogram demonstrates a possible abnormality. The type and number of mammographic views taken will be customized to your situation.

  • 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 (please do so 1 month prior to your appointment - it could take up to 3 weeks to obtain films from out of state).
  • 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 to you after your exam.
  • Wear two-piece clothing so that you only have to remove your top and bra for the examination.
  • 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 any pertinent history to your appointment: prior surgeries, hormone use, family or personal history of breast cancer.

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.

Our breast centers that offer diagnostic mammography are staffed by a radiologist, who is a doctor focused solely on mammography and the accurate detection of breast cancer. At the time of your visit, the radiologist will review your exam results with you and explain any further recommendations. Your primary care physician will receive the results of your exam within 24-48 hours of your visit.

If you have had a previous mammogram at a facility other than Charlotte Radiology, please let us know so that we may obtain these films. It is extremely important for the radiologist to have your prior films for comparison, as it enhances the doctor's ability to detect a subtle change or small abnormality on your current mammogram. Availability of prior films at your appointment also decreases the length of time it takes for you to get your results.

Please contact us if for some reason you have not gotten the results of your mammogram.

Screening mammography results will be sent to you and your physician within two weeks. If you are called back for additional mammographic views, do not be alarmed. Often times more views are needed in order to make an accurate diagnosis. If this is the case a member of our staff will contact you personally to discuss the recommended next step. This is called a diagnostic mammogram.

Our breast centers that offer diagnostic mammography are staffed by a radiologist, who is a doctor focused solely on mammography and the accurate detection of breast cancer. At the time of your visit, the radiologist will review your exam results with you and explain any further recommendations. Your primary care physician will receive the results of your exam within 24-48 hours of your visit.

If you have had a previous mammogram at a facility other than Charlotte Radiology, please let us know so that we may obtain these films. It is extremely important for the radiologist to have your prior films for comparison, as it enhances the doctor's ability to detect a subtle change or small abnormality on your current mammogram. Availability of prior films at your appointment also decreases the length of time it takes for you to get your results.

Please contact us if for some reason you have not gotten the results of your mammogram.

Accuracy
Mammography is the best screening tool for breast cancer available today, however, mammograms do not detect all breast cancers. A breast finding of concern should never be ignored despite a normal mammogram. If you notice any new changes in your breast(s) you should bring them to your health care provider’s attention promptly.

Additional testing
Approximately 10% of women are called back from screening mammograms for additional testing (also called a diagnostic mammogram). This percentage is slightly higher for women 40-49 years of age, but advances in technology – like digital mammography – have improved sensitivity in younger women. Most diagnostic mammograms conclude with normal results, but it is necessary in order to complete the mammographic evaluation and make an accurate diagnosis. In some cases a biopsy or follow-up test in 6 months may be advised.

Radiation dose
Strict guidelines ensure that mammogram equipment is safe and uses the lowest dose of radiation possible. Many people are concerned about the exposure to x-rays, but the level of radiation used in modern mammograms is very low and does not significantly increase the risk for breast cancer. And because of digital mammography advances, radiation dose is actually lower than traditional film mammography. The amount of radiation can be compared to an airplane flight of a few hours due to the thinner atmosphere.

Locations offering screening mammography:

» Ballantyne
» Huntersville
» Matthews
» Monroe
» Mooresville
» Morehead
» Pineville
» Prosperity Crossing
» Randolph
» Rock Hill
» SouthPark
» University

Locations offering diagnostic mammography:

» Huntersville
» Medical Center Plaza
» Monroe
» Morehead
» Pineville
» SouthPark
» University

Our Huntersville, Pineville and Monroe breast centers now offer Tomosynthesis (3D mammography), the latest technology in breast cancer detection.

If you'd like to make an appointment at any of the above locations, click here or call 704-367-2232 or 877-362-2232. You do not need a referral from your primary care physician for a screening mammogram. However, we do require that you provide a physician's name, so that we may send a copy of your results.