October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and that makes it a great time for women to get on a regular mammogram screening schedule.

The team at our East Campus Imaging Center makes that easy and comfortable.

They offer quick scheduling and turnaround on mammograms by appointment or as walk-ins, and their friendly, expert approach helps put women at ease.

Annual mammograms are the best way to catch breast cancer when it’s treatable – yet one of the main factors that stops women from regular screening is difficulty getting an appointment.

Regional One Health’s East Campus Imaging Center removes that barrier.

“One way our facility stands out is we have excellent availability,” said Muhammed Afzal, MD, a board-certified diagnostic radiologist and breast imaging specialist.

“It’s easy to get in and get plugged into an annual mammogram schedule. If you need a follow-up, they are also readily available, so you don’t have to wait and worry.”

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, our imaging team wants every woman to know that mammograms save lives – and that they make it easy to get your testing done.

Who needs breast screening?

The American College of Radiology recommends average-risk women start getting an annual screening mammogram at age 40.

Dr. Muhammed Afzal said the Imaging Center makes screening simple. “It’s easy to get in and get plugged into an annual mammogram schedule. If you need a follow-up, they are also readily available, so you don’t have to wait and worry.

Women at higher risk due to family history, hormonal treatments and other factors should talk to their primary care provider about their screening needs. Anyone (including men) with symptoms like a lump, swelling, pain or discharge from the nipple should talk to their provider.

“Studies have shown again and again that if you start screening at age 40 you significantly cut your risk of dying from breast cancer,” Dr. Afzal said. “Breast cancer deaths have been reduced by 37 percent since mammography screening became common in 1990.”

That’s because mammography is the best available tool to catch breast cancer early, and cancers that are caught early are more treatable and less likely to have spread. Treatment for early-stage cancer is also less invasive and difficult.

How do I get started?

The Imaging Center offers screening mammograms by appointment or on a walk-in basis.

“Either way, you rarely have to wait,” said mammogram imaging tech Patty Novak. “For a screening mammogram, you don’t need a doctor’s order. We just need your doctor’s name so we can send them the results. We’ll have you fill out a medical history form and we’ll ask where you’ve had prior mammograms so we can obtain those previous images to compare your new tests.”

Patients who don’t have a primary care provider can make an appointment with Regional One Health physicians and nurse practitioners located just blocks away at our new Kirby Primary Care location.

The Imaging Center works closely with these providers to ensure a seamless process for patients.

What can I expect from my test?

“We walk patients back to a females-only waiting room, and then they go right across the hall. It’s very simple and easy,” Novak said.

Mammogram Tech With Patient

Annual screening mammograms are the best tool available to catch breast cancer early, when it is still treatable. Average-risk women should have one every year starting at age 40.

Patients are asked to undress from the waist up and put on a cloth poncho. Wipes are available to remove deodorant before the test.

A screening mammogram only takes 5-10 minutes. Each breast is pressed between two plates to get X-ray images from several angles. Some women find the test uncomfortable, but Novak’s experience makes it as pain-free as possible.

“I try to make them feel comfortable, and I always ask if it hurts so I can address any issues,” she said. “Most patients leave saying, ‘That didn’t hurt at all!’”

What happens next?

The Imaging Center team knows one of the worst parts of any test is waiting for results, so they focus on quick turnaround and proactive, clear communication.

About 90 percent women who have a screening mammogram will have their test come back normal. They receive a letter in the mail informing them of their results.

For the other 10 percent, the radiologist may see something inconclusive or suspicious. The Imaging Center staff will notify the patient’s provider, get an order for a diagnostic test and call the patient to schedule the test – typically a diagnostic mammogram or breast ultrasound.

Dr. Afzal said there usually is no reason for alarm: very few women are found to have cancer, and most are cleared to return to their regular screening schedule.

Dr. Afzal added many facilities have a two or three week wait for follow-up tests, but the East Campus schedules most patients within days. Furthermore, he reads diagnostic mammograms and breast ultrasounds right after they are taken, so patients get their results immediately.

Get started today!

The Imaging Center is on the first floor of our East Campus, located conveniently off SR-385 at 6555 Quince Road.

Call 901-515-3600 for a screening mammogram appointment or stop by between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.