Yale Health members do not need a referral for a routine screening mammogram. Schedule by calling 203-688-1010 for appointments at any one of the following facilities:
- Yale-New Haven Breast Center, Smilow Cancer Hospital, 35 Park Street, New Haven
- North Haven Medical Center, 6 Devine St, North Haven
- Long Wharf Medical Center, 150 Sargent Drive, New Haven
- Shoreline Medical Center, 111 Goose Lane, Guilford
- Yale-New Haven Mammography Van, mobile van, multiple locations
Give the mammography center your primary care provider’s or Ob/Gyn clinician’s name so your results can be forwarded to them. If Yale Health is not your primary insurance, please verify coverage and the need for a referral with your primary insurance company.
All other breast imaging requires a referral.
What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is a safe test to screen for breast cancer, which uses a low-dose x-ray machine to take pictures of a woman’s breasts. Mammograms allow radiologists to look for breast lumps and changes in breast tissue. They can show small lumps or growths that may not be felt during a clinical breast exam.
When should I get a mammogram?
The Women’s Preventive Services Initiative recommends that average-risk women initiate mammography screening no earlier than age 40 and no later than age 50.
Screening mammography should occur at least once every two years and as frequently as once a year.
Screening should continue through at least age 74, and age alone should not be the basis to discontinue screening.
These screening recommendations are for women at average risk of breast cancer. Women at increased risk should also undergo periodic mammography screening.
You should talk to your primary care clinician about when to start and how often you should have a mammogram.
How is a mammogram done?
The radiological technician places one breast at a time between two plastic plates, which press the breast to flatten it. You will feel pressure and possibly some discomfort for a few seconds. The flatter your breast is, the better the picture. Usually, two pictures are taken of each breast, one from the side and one from above. 3-D mammograms are available at The Breast Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven. A screening mammogram appointment takes about 30 minutes from start to finish.
Adequate compression is necessary for the radiologist to see the breast tissue better. Compression of the breast also lowers the radiation dose. Women who have tender breasts may experience discomfort.
If you are afraid or nervous about feeling pain during your mammogram please discuss this with the technologist before the examination. The technologist will work with you to make you as comfortable as possible while still taking good-quality images.
Preparing for your mammogram
When you make your appointment, you will be given instructions you may need to follow before you go. Some general guidelines include:
- Before your mammogram, discuss any new findings or problems in your breasts with your primary care clinician or Ob/Gyn clinician. In addition, inform your clinician of any prior surgeries, hormone use, and family or personal history of breast cancer.
- Make your appointment for one week after your period, when your breasts are less likely to be tender.
- If you have had a mammogram somewhere other than through the Yale-New Haven Breast Center, bring previous mammograms, breast sonograms, films, or discs and reports to your appointment. The radiologist needs the prior information in order to make comparisons to your current mammogram.
- Describe any breast symptoms or problems to the technologist performing the exam. Inform the technologist of your previous breast history.
- Inform the technologist of the date of your last clinical breast exam and your menstrual cycle (if appropriate).
- Wear a shirt and a separate bottom, rather than a dress. This way, you can undress from the waist up and leave other clothes on.
- Avoid coffee, tea or caffeinated soft drinks for a few days, before a mammogram. Caffeine can cause breast tenderness.
Don’t wear deodorant, perfume, lotion, or powder under your arms or on your breasts on the day of your appointment, as these can cause shadows on the mammogram.
If you have breast implants, be sure to tell your mammography facility when you make your appointment. You will need a technologist who is trained in x-raying patients with implants because breast implants can hide some tissue.
Mammograms and radiation
Mammography involves a very low dose of radiation to the portion of the breast under exam. The dose is much lower than the natural level of radiation that every person receives from the environment during one year.
For example, the average mammogram (four views) has a typical effective radiation dose of 70 millirems (a measure of radiation dose equivalent). As a comparison, the average person in the US receives a dose equivalent of 300 millirems per year from natural sources.
For more information, call the Ob/Gyn Department at 203-432-0222 with any questions or visit:
The Breast Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven will send you a letter with the results of your mammogram. If any follow-up care is needed you will be called with the results of your mammogram.