How Can I Get a Breast Cancer Screening?
After you make an appointment, develop your game plan by having a list of your family’s cancer history ready. (You can include all cancers.) It can be really helpful if you also have a general idea of the ages and dates of diagnosis, as well as information on where you’re family is from and some background on their ancestry. After a discussion with your medical provider, you may be referred to a genetics counselor for further evaluation.
If you have a family history of breast cancer and/or would like to develop a screening routine, your doctor will develop a plan for evaluating your risks and talk to you about your options. You can visit your primary care physician or gynecologist to start the conversation.
If you have found a lump in your breast, it’s normal for your doctor to perform a physical examination of your breast and refer you for a diagnostic mammogram and/or ultrasound. Both tests are usually performed at the same appointment.
Note: Screening mammograms and diagnostic mammograms are billed differently. When The Affordable Care Act was passed, it required insurance plans to cover screening mammograms for women 40+ with no out-of-pocket costs. Coverage for diagnostic mammograms varies by state and insurance plan.
What Can You Expect Next?
If your doctor recommends a routine breast screening plan, you will want to discuss what a follow-up will include. This is important because if you receive a letter or get something posted to your online chart, you may not understand what you're reading. While it may be tempting, you don't want to be put in a position where you're inclined to Google your symptoms.
You’ll want to talk about things such as:
- How will I receive my results? Will I receive a phone call, electronic communication, a letter, etc.?
- Will you receive my results before I do? If my results require further testing, how will I be notified?
- What result(s) would I receive that would require me to come back for a follow-up visit?
- If I don’t hear anything, how should I follow-up with you to get my results?