Where you choose to have your mammogram matters. According to a Department of Radiology study at the University of California Medical Center, breast imaging specialists detect more cancers at earlier stages and recommend more biopsies while maintaining lower recall rates than general radiologists. But, how do you find and choose a breast specialist?
First, seek out providers in your area who have received fellowship training in breast imaging. A radiological fellowship consists of one to two years of specialized training after residency training is complete. A breast imaging fellowship provides additional training in mammography and breast tomosynthesis (also known as 3-D mammography) in addition to breast MRI, ultrasound, and biopsy. After the fellowship is complete, the radiologist must meet ongoing training and practice requirements in order to maintain designation as a breast imaging specialist. Choosing a provider who has training and experience in all of these procedures has substantial benefits:
A more acute initial reading of your screening mammograms reduces the chances of needless callbacks for additional tests.
Finding cancers at earlier stages improves the odds of successful and less invasive treatment.
If follow up is necessary, the same radiologist will be available to perform any additional imaging or biopsy that you may need.
Once you have identified the breast imaging specialists in your area, look at the facilities with which they are associated.
Does the facility’s equipment utilize the latest technology?
Imaging technology is always improving. Digital mammography has surpassed analog, and modern 3-D mammograms are capable of producing clearer images, reducing callback rates, and increasing cancer detection while reducing radiation levels.
Does the facility have the capability to perform all types of breast imaging?
A facility that can provide the full range of imaging services you may need, including digital mammography, 3-D mammography, MRI, ultrasound, and imaging-guided biopsy, ensures that you won’t have to go somewhere else for potential follow-up tests.
How much training does the staff have in breast imaging procedures?
In addition to the radiologist, the technologists, nurses, and others in the facility should be well versed in standard safety and quality control measures for breast imaging.
Is the facility a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence?
The American College of Radiology awards the Breast Imaging Center of Excellence (BICOE) designation to facilities that maintain accreditation in each of their breast imaging programs, ensuring that BICOE facilities meet high standards for quality and safety.
Does the facility have a good customer service reputation?
Customer service is a critical but often overlooked aspect of health care. A provider’s level of service can make a profound difference in a patient’s experience. Many of us have encountered health care professionals who seem to see us as a problem to solve or something to check of their to-do list for the day. Especially when you have concerns about your health, being treated with compassion and empathy can make a world of difference. Before you choose a facility, ask friends or family for recommendations, look for reviews online, or ask other medical professionals whose opinions you value.
Is the facility covered by my insurance?
The Affordable Care Act requires health insurance plans to cover screening mammograms. Check to see whether your facility of choice is covered by your particular plan for annual mammography. If not, understand what costs you will have to cover on your own, and find out if there are ways to reduce them. In Iowa, the John Stoddard Cancer Center operates the Pink Days program, providing no-cost screening mammograms to qualifying women with no or insufficient insurance coverage.
Iowa Radiology is proud to be an American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Center of Excellence and to have two outstanding fellowship-trained breast specialists on our staff. We strive to provide the best in customer service. If there is anything we can do to make you more comfortable during a procedure at any of our clinics, please let us know. If you’d like to learn more about mammography, click the image below to download our free eBook.
 Sickles, et al. "Performance Parameters for Screening and Diagnostic Mammography: Specialist and General Radiologists." Radiology. Radiological Society of North America, Sept 2002. Web. 9 Sept 2016.
 Friedewald, et al. “Breast Cancer Screening Using Tomosynthesis in Combination With Digital Mammography.” JAMA. American Medical Association, 25 June 2014. Web. 9 Sept 2016.
The information contained in the Iowa Radiology website is presented as public service information only. It is not intended to be nor is it a substitute for professional medical advice.You should always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider if you think you may have a medical problem before starting any new treatment, or if you have any questions regarding your medical condition.