This information will explain screening mammograms at MSK and how to schedule one. It will also explain breast tomosynthesis (toh-moh-SIN-thuh-sis), also called 3D screening mammography, and what to expect after your appointment.
Having Your Screening Mammogram at MSK
At MSK, anyone who needs a screening mammogram will get tomosynthesis. This technology is better than other types of mammograms because it finds more cancers. The pictures it takes are so detailed that most people will not need to come back for more images.
3D mammograms take more time to read and interpret. This means you will not get the results of your mammogram during your imaging appointment.
You can get a screening mammogram if:
- You have no issues with your breasts, such as a lump, nipple discharge, or focal pain (pain in one area of your breast).
- Your most recent mammogram, ultrasound, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was either negative or had benign (not cancerous) results.
- You haven’t been treated for breast cancer in the past 3 years.
Screening mammograms are for people without any breast symptoms. You may be eligible to have a screening mammogram even if you have had cancer. Visit Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines to learn about your risk and when to get screened.
If you do have symptoms, such as breast lumps or discharge from your breasts, tell your healthcare provider. You may be able to get a diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound to evaluate your symptoms.
If you are lactating (producing breast milk), be sure to tell your healthcare provider. You should breastfeed or express your milk before your mammogram. You should empty your breasts as much as possible.
Scheduling Your Screening Mammogram
- If your MSK provider is ordering your mammogram, their office will schedule it for you. You can also call 646-227-3700 to make an appointment.
- If your healthcare provider outside of MSK is ordering your mammogram, ask them to first fax the prescription with their name, address, and phone number to 646-227-7259. Then call us to schedule at 833-376-1194. We can’t do a mammogram without this prescription, so you may want to also bring a copy of it to your appointment.
- If you have had mammograms, breast imaging, or other exams done somewhere else, ask them to send us a CD of your imaging exams before your appointment. This will let us compare your new results to your older ones. Please contact the MSK location where you are scheduled to have your mammogram for mailing instructions.
What You Can Expect After Your Screening Mammogram
After your appointment, we will send you a letter with the results of your screening mammogram by mail. The results will also be available in MyMSK, our patient portal, the next business day (Monday through Friday).
If you do not have a MyMSK account, you can sign up at my.mskcc.org.
If you get a call about needing more images, it does not mean you have cancer. It means the radiologist wants to see an area more clearly. A radiologist is a doctor who specializes in imaging tests.
You will then be scheduled for a diagnostic ultrasound or a diagnostic mammogram, which takes more detailed images of a specific area in your breast. Sometimes you will be scheduled for both. Most of the time your mammogram will be found to be normal after these additional images are taken.
Screening Mammogram Follow-Up Tests
You may need to have a diagnostic mammogram, which is a more detailed image than a screening mammogram. During a diagnostic mammogram, different methods are used to focus on a specific part of your breast. The images taken during a diagnostic mammogram help your radiologist decide if you will need a biopsy (removal of a small tissue sample).
Key Points to Remember
- Screening mammograms can find cancer before you have symptoms.
- Breast tomosynthesis, also called 3D screening mammography, finds more cancers than other mammogram technology.
- Your mammogram results will be available in MyMSK, our patient portal, the next business day (Monday through Friday). We will also send you the results by mail.
- We will call you if you need more images. It does not mean you have cancer.
If you have any questions, contact a member of your healthcare team directly. If you’re a patient at MSK and you need to reach a provider after , during the weekend, or on a holiday, call 212-639-2000.