Breast Cancer Awareness is More Than Just a Month


One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.  Early diagnosis is the key to surviving breast cancer and Mammography is still considered the gold standard for detecting early breast cancer disease.  In many cases, especially using 3D technology, a Mammogram can identify and abnormal breast mass as much as two years before a physical change would be noticed.

When should I begin having mammograms?

In the last few years there has been controversy over revised guidelines and recommendations from many different organizations for Screening Mammography.  However, Jefferson County Health Center recognizes the guidelines of The American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging, which recommend the following:  A woman should be getting annual screening mammograms beginning at the age of 40.   

For more information, tools and resources, visit:

American College of Radiology at

Society of Breast Imaging at:


What is a screening mammogram?

A screening mammogram is a standard four view exam to look for any irregularities in your tissue that may warrant further examination.  If you are not having any problems or symptoms that may indicate a concern for breast cancer, your doctor will order a screening mammogram.

What is a diagnostic mammogram?

A diagnostic mammogram provides more detailed views beyond the standard four view exam.  These extra views will be tailored to the symptoms that you are having and will be performed under the direction of a radiologist.  If you or your doctor find a lump, or you have any other symptom indicating that a more detailed examination is needed, your doctor will order a diagnostic mammogram. 

Signs and symptoms of breast cancer:

If a woman of any age notices any changes in her breasts, she should contact her doctor or health care provider as soon as possible for consultation.  Additionally, if there is an increased risk for breast cancer, such as a family history, consult your physician about when to begin Mammography or other testing.

The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass.

Other possible signs of breast cancer include:

  • Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • Breast or nipple pain
  • Nipple retraction (turning inward)
  • Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)

What is 3D Mammography?

3D Mammography (also called digital breast tomosynthesis or DBT) is a new technology that allows imaging of breast tissue one layer at a time.  It uses high-powered computing to convert digital breast images into a stack of very thin layers or “slices”- building what is essentially a 3 dimensional mammogram.

It can be easily compared to pages in a book.  If you look at the cover, you cannot see all of the pages– but as you open it and go through the entire book page-by page you see everything in between. 3D provides a clearer image of breast tissue in layers just like the content on the individual pages.

Should I choose 3D Mammography?

3D Mammography is approved for all women who would be undergoing a standard mammogram, either as a screening (annual testing) or as a diagnostic (if you have a lump or other breast problems) mammogram.

The decision is up to you and can be based on recommendations by your doctor.

3D Mammography is offered at Jefferson County Health Center for most patients who choose this option.  There is a minimal charge for the additional imaging and the choice is completely yours.

Medicare and many insurance companies will cover the additional charge as medically necessary.  Some insurance companies will not.

As the patient, you should check with your insurance company prior to your appointment to determine whether or not they allow the additional charges for 3D imaging.

All patients will be asked to sign a waiver stating whether or not they choose to have the 3D imaging and accepting responsibility of payment for the additional fees if not covered by the insurance provider.


How will I get the results of my mammogram?

Your mammogram will be interpreted by a board certified radiologist.  Radiologists are physicians who specialize in interpreting x-rays and diagnostic imaging. You will also receive separate billing from the radiologist for the interpretation fees.

For more information about our radiologists visit:


Once the radiologist has completed his/her interpretation, a report will be sent to your physician or ordering practitioner.

Additionally, you will receive a letter from Jefferson County Health Center giving you basic results.  We recommend that you contact your physician for a more detailed explanation.


What if I need help paying for my mammogram?

Jefferson County Health Center provides financial assistance through our Mammography Assistance Program.  This program is for patients who meet qualifying criteria for having a mammogram and for meeting income guidelines. The program provides payment for patients that are either uninsured or under insured for screening and diagnostic mammography as well as interpretation fees.  The program will also cover additional breast imaging such as follow-up mammograms or breast ultrasound.   This program is not available for patients with Medicare or Medicaid.

Mammogram Assistance Application 

As we move through the month of October and see all of the pink colors that are displayed and worn, we need to remember that “Pink” serves a purpose.  The Pink Ribbon is there to remind us to take care of ourselves and our loved ones. 


Additional Resources:

For information on Breast Density, visit: