Trusted Mammography Services at Four Locations
We know how important preventive care is when it comes to breast health. But in your busy life, keeping up with your mammograms can be difficult (and scary) – even when you know they could save your life. That’s why we now offer convenient, trusted mammography services at four VPFW locations: Midlothian Turnpike, Colonial Heights/Prince George, St Francis (NEW), and West Creek.
No matter which of our locations you’re scheduled to have mammography in Richmond, VA or in the surrounding areas, please note that each of our locations that offer mammography has an FDA-Certified Mammography Facility. We use full-field, digital, low-dose mammography equipment to assist in the early detection and diagnosis of breast cancer.
VPFW is accredited by The American College of Radiology, and our highly trained technologists make you feel comfortable from the moment you arrive for your screening. Under the supervision of VPFW physicians, we partner with experts at Radiology Associates of Richmond to read our mammography scans.
In addition to 2D mammograms, we also offer the latest 3D (tomography) mammograms, which most insurance carriers now cover. Be sure to check with your insurance carrier prior to your visit.
If your last mammogram was not at a VPFW center, please fill out our Mammography Film Release Form and bring it to your appointment.
*Update on mammogram scheduling with respect to COVID-19 vaccination*
Please note that due to an increased likelihood of temporarily enlarged lymph nodes resulting from COVID-19 vaccination, the Society of Breast Imaging recommends that screening mammograms be scheduled either prior to or at least six weeks after completion of the COVID-19 vaccine series, and not in between a first and second vaccine dose. This is to minimize callbacks due to a temporary condition that could be confused with a more serious problem.
We will leave it up to the patient to determine when they feel comfortable having their mammogram and will only cancel appointments if a patient requests us to do so. Please call us at 804-897-2100 and press 2 to speak with a phone nurse if you have any questions or need to reschedule.
When Should I Get a Mammogram?
Our physicians recommend that you should begin a baseline screening at age 40 and have a mammogram done every year after that to detect any abnormalities or changes. If your mother or sister has or had breast cancer, we recommend that you begin getting annual mammograms beginning 10 years earlier than when she was diagnosed. Of course, the best way to determine when you should get a mammogram is to discuss your family medical history, risk factors, and any questions and concerns you may have with your provider.
What Should I Expect During My Mammogram?
When you arrive for your mammogram, you will be asked to undress from the waist up and change into a gown. The technologist will go over a list of medical history questions with you and then perform the mammogram. The breast is briefly compressed in two different projections. The total exam takes about 10 minutes. Sometimes extra images are taken to include all of the breast tissue.
Do Mammograms Hurt?
When going for a mammogram, it’s natural to be concerned about the extent of pain or discomfort the procedure may cause. Before going for an exam, it helps to know what to expect, whether it would hurt, and the probable side effects, if any.
Pain During Screening
Before we delve into the pain aspect, it’s important to touch upon the technicalities involved in the mammogram. For the purpose of the X-ray, the breast tissue needs to be spread out so the projected image can clearly detect any lumps or other inconsistencies. So you may feel the pressure against your breast as it is compressed by a plate while the X-ray image is being captured from various angles. But rest assured that this step of the procedure lasts for a few minutes only.
However, keep in mind that it is normal to feel pain or discomfort from the pressure applied by the machine during the exam. All the same, it helps to know that most women feel only some amount of discomfort and no pain, and others feel extreme pain during the screening. Still others feel nothing at all as they’re being screened.
The reason for the differing amounts of pain can be attributed to the following factors:
- Size and structure of the breast
- Presence of harmless cysts on the breast
- Whether the screening is held during or immediately before a period, which can increase breast sensitivity
- Tolerance for pain
- Positioning of the machine
A combination of these factors can greatly influence the amount of pain or discomfort felt during or after the exam. To reduce the overall breast sensitivity, schedule the mammogram a week after the menstrual period, if possible. Also, if extreme discomfort or pain is felt during the screening, it is important to let the technologist know as it could be because of improper positioning or wrong height of the equipment.
Pain Post Screening
Most women do not feel any pain at all after the exam. However, some may continue to feel some amount of lingering pain or tenderness while some may even experience minor bruising. To reduce discomfort or pain, it’s recommended to avoid wearing a bra with underwire for the rest of the day after the screening. Wearing a padded sports bra instead might help relieve the discomfort.
Women who’re particularly concerned about the probable pain may want to consult their health care provider regarding the suitability of taking pain medicine. Based on their medical history, the physician will determine whether taking an over-the-counter pain medication before the screening would be the right course of action.
When Should I Expect to Get My Results?
You will receive your results 7-10 business days, provided we have your prior mammograms at the time of your exam.
What Happens if You Find Something?
We know it’s not easy, but it’s important to remember to not panic. The majority of lumps found in breasts are benign. If a radiologist does detect an abnormality in your scan, then you will be referred to the hospital for further screening. You will have a follow-up mammogram and/or breast ultrasound done. If needed, you may also have a biopsy.
Can I Get My Mammogram Done at VPFW Even if I’ve Gone Somewhere Else for Previous Screenings?
Of course! Whether you are a new or established patient, you can always choose to schedule your mammogram at any of our Richmond, VA locations (West Creek, Midlothian Turnpike, St. Francis) or at our Colonial Heights/Prince George office.
If your previous mammograms were performed at any of the following HCA or Bon Secours Mercy Health facilities, then the radiologist can request electronic access to those images. You do not need to obtain them yourself.
- Johnston-Willis Hospital
- John Randolph Medical Center
- Retreat Doctors Hospital
- Henrico Doctors Hospital
- Chippenham Hospital
- Independence Park Imaging
- Appomattox Imaging Center
- Chesterfield Imaging Center
- Richmond Women’s Specialists
- St. Mary’s Women’s Imaging Center
- St. Francis Medical Center
- Richmond Community Hospital
- Bon Secours Imaging Center at Reynolds Crossing
- Memorial Regional Medical Center
- Laburnum Diagnostic
- Westchester Imaging Center
- Richmond OB-Gyn at St. Francis
- Bon Secours Imaging Center at Innsbrook
If your previous mammograms were not performed at an HCA or Bon Secours Mercy Health facility, please obtain the CDs of your images prior to your appointment. Most facilities require patients to complete a Mammography Release Form. You can fill out the form and either send it to the facility that conducted your prior mammogram(s) yourself, or bring it to VPFW and we can request the images for you. Please be aware that most facilities require advanced notice to prepare your mammography images, so please contact them as soon as possible if you plan to pick them up yourself.