The Pretty Useless Screening Mammogram

by Maggan

in Diagnosis,Health Care,Insurance,Mammogram


-If you have discovered a lump, says the scheduler at the Breast “Care” Center, then you cannot make an appointment.


-You need a diagnostic mammogram, and your doctor, not you need to schedule it. Otherwise the insurance company won’t pay.

-But I don’t have a doctor – yet, I only have a check up with a new one in three weeks.

Suddenly, I urgently need to know what lurks inside my breast. Like when you put off a hair cut for weeks and then look in the mirror and desperately reach for your own scissors when you hair dresser can’t see you the same day.

-You can not have a screening mammogram if you have a lump. The scheduler does not even try to sound patient.

I am too stunned to ask about the difference between a screening mammogram and a diagnostic one, too stunned to ask about the difference in cost. Instead I whine:

-But I don’t have a doctor, I only have this lump.

-All right. Come here on Friday. But don’t mention the lump.

-Not a word about the lump, I promise.

A screening mammogram is an x-ray of the breast used to detect breast changes in women who have no signs or symptoms of breast cancer. It usually involves two x-rays of each breast. Mammograms can detect tumors you cannot feeel. Even microcalcifications. Supposedly.

A diagnostic involves more x-rays in order to obtain views of the breast from several angles. The technician may magnify a suspicious area to produce a detailed picture that can help the doctor make the diagnosis. A diagnostic mammogram is an x-ray of the breast that is used to check for breast cancer after a lump or other sign or symptom of breast cancer has been found.

But if most lumps are not found on the screening mammogram then why not do a diagnostic mammogram on all women although it may cost a little bit more. I don’t get it.

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