Mammograms serve as an essential tool in women's healthcare, particularly in the early detection of breast cancer. It’s important to get a routine mammogram because it’s not always possible to see signs of potential breast cancer through physical examination alone.
Two broad types of mammograms are screening mammograms and diagnostic mammograms. Each plays a different role in the breast cancer prevention and detection process. In this article, we’ll explain the differences between screening and diagnostic mammograms to help determine which one you should schedule. Then, we’ll dive into how to prepare for your mammogram appointment.
A screening mammogram is a routine exam performed on asymptomatic patients to look for signs of breast cancer that a physical examination may not detect1. This type of mammogram is akin to a preventive screening for breast cancer. Getting one once per year is recommended, depending on your age, and it’s usually performed separately from your annual physical exam.
During a screening mammogram, your health provider will take X-rays of your breasts from several angles. These images are then examined for any irregularities that could indicate breast cancer.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Help cover yourself and your family with affordable coverage from Aflac.
A diagnostic mammogram is an imaging procedure used to examine breast tissue closely, usually after a screening mammogram detects unusual results.1 These may also be ordered if the patient is experiencing symptoms such as pain, discharge, or lumps.
Diagnostic mammograms are more in-depth, requiring additional and more targeted imaging to help radiologists examine the area more closely and make a more accurate diagnosis.
Both procedures are crucial in detecting breast cancer. However, they differ in several ways, suiting them for different roles in breast cancer detection:2
If you’re healthy and not experiencing symptoms of breast cancer, a screening mammogram once yearly is generally a good idea.3 This is especially important if you have a family history of breast cancer. Continue to physically examine your breasts for any signs once a month, as well. On the other hand, a diagnostic mammogram may be appropriate if you experience the following:
Furthermore, you may want to get a diagnostic mammogram if your screening mammogram picks up potential signs of cancer.
Here are a few tips to make your mammogram go smoothly and to get the most accurate results:4
Early detection is key to detecting and addressing breast cancer. Screening and diagnostic mammograms each play crucial roles in this process. A screening mammogram can be an excellent preventive measure, helping to catch any issues undetected by physical examination. If the screening mammogram results warrant a more thorough examination, or if you’re experiencing potential symptoms, a diagnostic mammogram can help medical professionals take a closer look.
Health insurance may not cover the full cost of preventive screening. Furthermore, health insurance may not cover the whole bill if cancer is detected. Cancer insurance from Aflac can help fill in these gaps, giving you added peace of mind knowing that you can access the screenings and treatments you need, regardless of your situation. Speak with an agent today about your cancer insurance options.
Explore your cancer insurance options.
1 National Cancer Institute – Mammograms. Updated February 21, 2023. https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/mammograms-fact-sheet. Accessed August 17, 2023.
2 Healthline – How Long Does It Take to Get a Mammogram and Receive the Results? Updated April 17, 2020. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-does-a-mammogram-take. Accessed August 17, 2023.
3 American Cancer Society – American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer. Updated February 24, 2023. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/screening/american-cancer-society-guidelines-for-the-early-detection-of-cancer.html. Accessed August 17, 2023.
4 American Cancer Society – Tips for Getting a Mammogram. Updated January 14, 2022. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/types/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/mammograms/mammograms-what-to-know-before-you-go.html. Accessed August 17, 2023.
Content within this article is provided for general informational purposes and is not provided as tax, legal, health, or financial advice for any person or for any specific situation. Employers, employees, and other individuals should contact their own advisers about their situations. For complete details, including availability and costs of Aflac insurance, please contact your local Aflac agent.
Series B70000: In Arkansas, Policies B70100AR, B70200AR, B70300AR, B7010EPAR, B7020EPAR. In Delaware, Policies B70100DE, B70200DE & B70300DE. In Idaho, Policies B70100ID, B70200ID, B70300ID, B7010EPID, B7020EPID. In Oklahoma, Policies B70100OK, B70200OK, B70300OK, B7010EPOK, B7020EPOK. In Oregon, Policies B70100OR, B70200OR, B70300OR, B7010EPOR, B7020EPOR. In Pennsylvania, Policies B70100PA, B70200PA, B70300PA. In Texas, Policies B70100TX, B70200TX, B70300TX, B7010EPTX, B7020EPTX. Series A78000: In New York, Policies, NY78100–NY78400. Series A75000: In Virginia, policies A75100VA–A75300VA.
Coverage is underwritten by American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus. In New York, coverage is underwritten by American Family Life Assurance Company of New York.
Tier One Coverage
Series T70000: In Arkansas, Policy T70000ARR. In Delaware, Policy T70000. In Idaho, Policy T70000ID. In Oklahoma, Policy T70000OK. In Oregon, Policy T70000OR. In Pennsylvania, Policies T70000PA, T7000GPA. In Texas, Policy T70000TX. In Virginia, policies T70000VA & T70000GVA.
Coverage is underwritten by Tier One Insurance Company.
This is a brief product overview only. Coverage may not be available in all states. Benefits/premium rates may vary based on plan selected. Optional riders may be available at an additional cost. Plans and riders may also contain a waiting period. Refer to the exact plans and riders for benefit details, definitions, limitations and exclusions. For availability and costs, please contact your local Aflac agent/producer.
Aflac’s family of insurers include Aflac, Aflac New York, Continental American Insurance Company, and Tier One Insurance Company.
Aflac WWHQ | Tier One Insurance Company | 1932 Wynnton Road | Columbus, GA 31999