What is a mammogram?
A mammography is a test that uses x-rays to scan an image of the breast. These images are called mammograms. A radiologist then examines the images and scans for any signs of breast cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, mammography is typically the most effective tool when examining or screening for breast cancer. Mammogram screening can oftentimes detect early-stage breast cancers when women have a higher probability of survival.
Mammography can also be used as a follow-up test if something abnormal is found during a clinical breast exam. This is known as a “diagnostic” breast exam.
However, it’s important to know that although it’s called a diagnostic exam, this process cannot diagnose someone with breast cancer. Findings must go through a biopsy in order to confirm or rule out breast cancer.
A mammogram may show:
- No signs of breast cancer
- A benign condition
- Abnormal findings in which needs a follow-up exam/ tests in order to rule out cancer
Who should get a mammogram and how often?
The United States Preventive Services Task Force external recommends that women who are 50 to 74 years of age get a mammogram once a year. Women who are over the age of 55 can get a mammogram every two years. Women between the ages of 40 to 49 should begin to talk to their healthcare provider about the right time to begin getting mammograms how often they should be done.
The Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines for Women chart compares recommendations from several leading organizations.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, you may be eligible for free or low-cost screenings if you meet these qualifications—
- You have no insurance, or your insurance does not cover screening exams.
- Your yearly income is at or below 250% of the federal poverty level.
- You are between 40 and 64 years of age for breast cancer screening.
- You are between 21 and 64 years of age for cervical cancer screening.
- Certain women who are younger or older may qualify for screening services.
How much does a mammogram cost with and without insurance?
The costs of screening mammograms and diagnostic mammograms differ. A screening mammogram is often ordered once a year for women with no current signs or symptoms of breast cancer. Diagnostic mammograms are ordered when a woman is experiencing symptoms of breast cancer.
Cost of screening mammograms:
With a private insurance policy, Medicare, or Medicaid, the cost of a mammogram is typically very low. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) required all insurance companies to cover mammograms for women over the age of 40 with no copay or deductible.
With no insurance, there are several ways to get a screening mammogram done for free.
- The CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program will provide free or low-cost mammograms for women who meet certain criteria.
- Call the Susan G. Komen Breast Care Helpline at 1-877-465-6636 for help finding low-cost testing near you.
- Planned Parenthood offers breast exams and referrals for locations to get a mammography
Cost of diagnostic mammograms:
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Not all health insurance policies fully cover the cost of a diagnostic mammogram.
Without insurance, diagnostic mammograms cost an average of $290. The prices typically range from about $80 to $810.
Where can I get a mammogram done in NYC for free?
The NYS Cancer Services Program offers free breast cancer screening and diagnostic services for uninsured, eligible New Yorkers. The program provides mammograms and clinical breast exams to women ages 40 and older (some programs serve women ages 50 and older only).
NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island
2601 Ocean Parkway
NYC Health + Hospitals/Cumberland
100 North Portland Avenue
NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County
451 Clarkson Avenue
NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull
NYC Health + Hospitals/East New York
2094 Pitkin Avenue
NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi
1400 Pelham Parkway South
NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln
234 East 149th Street
NYC Health + Hospitals/Morrisania
1225 Gerard Avenue
NYC Health + Hospitals/North Central Bronx
3424 Kossuth Avenue
NYC Health + Hospitals/Belvis
545 East 142nd Street
NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue
462 First Avenue
NYC Health + Hospitals/Gouverneur
227 Madison Street
NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem
506 Lenox Avenue
(212) 939-4290 or 4291
NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan
1901 First Avenue
NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst
NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens
82-68 164th Street
NYC Health + Hospitals/Sea View
460 Brielle Avenue
(718) CONNECT or (718) 266-6328
Performing a self-breast exam
A breast self-exam is an important way to detect breast cancer early. The following are the steps you can take to perform a self-exam:
Step 1: Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.
Here's what you should look for:
If you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor's attention:
Breast Self-Exam — Step 1
Step 2: Now, raise your arms and look for the same changes.
Step 3: While you're at the mirror, look for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples (this could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood).
Breast Self-Exam — Steps 2 and 3
Step 4: Next, feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion, about the size of a quarter.
Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side — from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.
Follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast. You can begin at the nipple, moving in larger and larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers up and down vertically, in rows, as if you were mowing a lawn. This up-and-down approach seems to work best for most women. Be sure to feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts: for the skin and tissue just beneath, use light pressure; use medium pressure for tissue in the middle of your breasts; use firm pressure for the deep tissue in the back. When you've reached the deep tissue, you should be able to feel down to your ribcage.
Breast Self-Exam — Step 4
|Step 5: Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. Many women find that the easiest way to feel their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, so they like to do this step in the shower. Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements described in step 4.|