Diagnostic Mammography Guidelines
Windsong recommends annual screening mammography for women, beginning at age 40. Studies show that early detection is the key to detecting breast cancer early and saving lives. Even with no symptoms of breast disease, women should schedule their screening mammogram appointments annually with an order from their doctor. However, if you are experiencing a worrisome lump, nipple discharge, a change in breast skin, breast pain, or if you have a strong family history of breast cancer, then your physician should order a diagnostic mammogram, which is more comprehensive in nature.
Windsong has updated our mammography protocol to ensure compliance with the New York State Department of Health regulations, which require a direct order for mammography and other radiology procedures.
Planning for Your Mammogram
A two-dimensional digital mammogram has limitations in a dense breast, in that dense tissue can overlay on top of each other and potentially hide small cancers. The main advantage of 3D digital mammography is that it can reveal the inner structure of a breast, free from overlaying dense tissue. Tumors can be found in an earlier stage. There will also be fewer false positives, which can reduce the number of unnecessary breast biopsies. 3D mammography is particularly helpful for women with dense breast tissue or those with high risk of breast cancer such as those with a strong family history of breast cancer. Ask your doctor if you are a good candidate for 3D digital mammography.
- Only a physician, nurse practitioner, or a physician assistant can order a screening or diagnostic mammogram.
- You must have an order or prescription from your physician’s office prior to the service. The order can be either written or verbal.
- Verbal orders are typically called in directly to Windsong when your physician’s office schedules your mammogram for you.
- Written orders come in several forms, but the most common are our Windsong pink referral slips or the provider’s own prescription. Please be sure to bring it with you on the day of your appointment.
If you schedule your own appointment and arrive without a written order (and there is no verbal order on record), Windsong will be happy to contact your provider’s office to obtain one. Unfortunately, this may result in a longer wait for you, if we cannot get in touch with your physician’s office right away.
Windsong continues to bring quality care to underserved communities throughout Western New York with its mobile screening mammography service. The goal of this program is to work collaboratively with community partners to improve access to breast cancer screening. This project is supported with funds from Health Research and the New York State Department of Health. To learn more please click here, or contact us at 716-929-9494.
“DON’T FORGET TO MAKE YOUR APPOINTMENT FOR YOUR FIRST MAMMOGRAM AT FORTY AND ANNUALLY THEREAFTER,” says Michelle.
Michelle is like many young women in their early 40’s. She has a great career which keeps her busy. She has an active lifestyle. Being healthy, she didn’t pay much attention to the recommendation to have an annual mammogram and conduct monthly breast exams once you turn 40. Why should she? There was absolutely no family history of breast cancer. Surely this recommendation was intended for those women who had a history of breast cancer in their family. So she put it off.
Michelle didn’t pay attention at 40. Nor did she bother at 41. Her forty second birthday followed quickly and it continued to be of little concern, but when Michelle turned 43 something changed. For some unknown reason, she felt a strange sensation in her breast. She decided to do a self breast exam as she had been taught, placing her arm over head while lying on her back. She didn’t feel anything. But when she sat up she was certain she felt something.
Michelle felt the only way to allay her fears would be to have her doctor tell her it was nothing to worry about. After having a breast exam by her doctor she was given a physician order for a mammogram at Windsong. She soon learned that what she had felt was more than a suspicion -she had breast cancer.
You cannot help but be taken by the determination of this young woman. As a breast cancer survivor, Michelle is on a mission to educate others and she is doing so with an amazing inner strength. She is sharing her story in order to encourage co-workers, friends and family to adhere to the recommendation for an annual mammogram after the age of forty. She does so with a beauty and poise that will assuredly inspire woman to never take for granted the importance of annual breast cancer screening to ensure early detection.