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Do I Still Need a Mammogram Every Year?

Published on April 2, 2013 by Virginia Women's Center

Over the past couple of years, the debate over how often women should have mammograms has continued to change and evolve as the results of new studies have been presented. The result? Unfortunately, many women are confused – and rightly so, as different professional organizations have different recommendations.

At Virginia Women’s Center, we follow the guidelines of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and recommend that women over age 40 have a mammogram annually. As always, there are certain circumstances or family history that might warrant earlier or additional screening. It’s important to keep in mind that guidelines give us solid recommendations, but women’s health care isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. One-on-one with your health care provider is the best way to determine what you need and when.

Women’s breasts are always changing. They change during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause. Many lumps, tenderness and other changes are benign, normal and simply the result of these hormonal changes. Along with these normal changes, problems can arise. It is important for you to be aware of any changes in your breasts. Tools such as screening mammograms and clinical breast exams, which are procedures that are performed by health care professionals at facilities like Virginia Women’s Center, can help detect breast cancer before it has progressed.

If you’re preparing for a mammogram at Virginia Women’s Center, you may find the following tips helpful:

Scheduling your appointment

  • Try to schedule your mammogram for immediately after your menstrual cycle, so you will not have the breast tenderness that can occur at other times in the cycle.
  • Virginia Women’s Center offers screening mammograms at our Henrico Doctors’ Forest Medical Plaza, John Rolfe Commons and Mechanicsville locations. You may be able to schedule your annual well-woman exam and mammogram at the same time. You can schedule an appointment on our secure patient portal or by calling 804.288.4084.
  • You will need a physician’s order for a mammogram. If you see a VWC health care provider and are planning to have your mammogram at VWC, you do not need a written order (our providers will have access to your electronic health record).

 

Prior to your appointment

  • If you have had a mammogram before at a location other than Virginia Women’s Center or The Ellen Shaw de Paredes Institute for Women’s Imaging, you will need to request that your prior films be sent to us before your visit. You can download the form here.
  • Please verify coverage with your insurance. Any payment is requested at the time of service.

 

On the day of your mammogram

  • Your mammogram will take approximately 20 minutes.
  • Do not use perfumes, bath oils, powders or deodorant. They contain ingredients that can interfere with the clarity of the image.
  • It’s best to wear a two-piece outfit to your mammogram appointment. Then, you will only have to remove your top at the time of the procedure.

 

If you have any questions about your upcoming mammogram, feel free to contact our office at 804.288.4084.

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