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What Is a Mammogram?

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A mammogram is a special test that can detect breast cancer. Unfortunately, breast cancer is very common. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Because most breast cancers cannot be felt, a yearly mammogram can be a valuable tool for early detection. Here are the facts you should know about screening mammograms.

Why do I need a mammogram?

All women have some risk of developing breast cancer even if they have no family history. A mammogram can detect very early signs of breast cancer. Early detection of breast cancer significantly increases the survival and cure rate. Most women should begin annual screening mammograms at age 40. However, women with certain risk factors may need to start sooner. Your doctor can help you decide if early screening will benefit you.

Does a mammogram hurt?

The pressure from a mammogram is similar to that of a blood pressure cuff. During the exam, your technologist will position your breast within the mammography unit and carefully apply compression. Compression improves the quality and accuracy of your images. Your exam will be performed by a specially trained technologist in a private room. Your technologist will take a few images on each breast. Each image takes only a few seconds and the whole exam takes only 10-15 minutes. Results are available through your MyOchsner portal and by mail within a few days.

Is the radiation dangerous?

Mammograms are very safe. The amount of radiation exposure in a mammogram is comparable to what you would absorb from the environment naturally in about 7-weeks or by taking a round trip flight across the country.

How much does a mammogram cost? Where can I get one?

At Ochsner, 3D screening mammograms are covered by insurance with no co-pay. Ochsner offers many convenient screening locations with early, late and weekend appointments to suit your schedule. Occasionally, patients will be asked to return for additional imaging. This is a normal part of the screening process. Patients will be notified by phone if this is the case.

How do I make an appointment for a mammogram?

Please request an order from your physician before calling for a mammogram appointment. 

Learn more about cancer screenings at Ochsner:

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