How Much Does A Mammogram Cost?
A mammogram is a series of x-rays that show images of the soft tissues of the breast. The advantage of this screening procedure is that it can help detect breast cancer at an early stage, even two years before a lump can be palpated.
Mammogram is a quick and generally painless test that usually takes less than 30 minutes, depending on the number of X-rays required. The X-rays themselves take only a few seconds, but it takes extra time to position the breast and body correctly for each x-ray.
The most important role of a mammogram is to detect breast cancer before the patient feels that she has it and before her gynecologist can palpate it. For this, any woman over the age of 40 should request a mammogram every one to two years.
This is called prevention, or screening for breast cancer. Thus, the detection of cancer will be done at an early stage, most likely curable. When breast cancer manifests itself, that is, when the patient already feels something abnormal in the breast, most often feels a lump, the patient will receive treatment, but will be less likely to heal.
This advice should be received from any doctor, regardless of his specialty, but the best ones to give it to you are the gynecologist, oncologist, and radiologist.
There are two types of mammograms:
- Screening mammogram: Is performed regularly in asymptomatic women over 40 years to detect any suspicious abnormality or any change since the last mammogram performed.
- Diagnostic mammogram: It is recommended for symptomatic patients over 35 years presenting lumps, nipple leakage, nipple or skin retraction in the breast, etc., or after a screening mammogram with present changes. It uses additional mammographic incidents for a correct diagnosis.
The Cost of a Mammogram
The cost of a mammogram can vary from $0 up to $2,000+. These variations in price depend on whether you have health insurance, age, type of mammogram, age, and location. For example, in regions like New York, Wisconsin, Alaska, Michigan, and California, the costs for a screening mammogram are higher than in Alabama and Arkansas.
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The average cost of a 2D private screening mammogram runs for about $400 for people with no medical insurance, but if you are over 40 and also have health insurance, this should cover it.
A 3D screening mammogram for people with no medical insurance has an average cost of $560, and lately, most health insurance plans cover it.
The average cost of a diagnostic mammogram is $499, but depending on your health insurer you can co-pay or it can be deductible.
Can you get a free mammogram at any time?
Most health insurance plans cover just the screening mammogram if you are over 40, and you take it every 1 to 2 years. Another condition, in order to be free, is for the woman to have no symptoms, other way, it will be considered a diagnostic mammogram. A diagnostic mammogram is like any other test, so you’ll be responsible for the co-pay and deductibles.
Are 3-D mammograms free too?
3D mammograms are recommended for women with denser breast tissue. Lately, there are many health insurance plans that also cover 3D screening mammograms. Whether you choose to have one or your doctor recommends you to do it, you can still pay an additional fee.
Factors that Influence the Cost of Mammograms
The cost of a mammogram depends on:
- Your healthcare insurance plan and the services that it covers;
- Whether the mammogram is for a 2D/3D screening or diagnostic mammogram;
- Region of the country.
- Low-cost or free mammograms
There are many private foundations that help women with mammogram costs. Here are some of them:
- Susan G. Komen Foundation Affiliates3
- The National Breast Cancer Foundation
- American Breast Cancer Foundation
- American Cancer Society
3D mammogram vs. 2D mammogram
The main benefit of a 3D mammogram is how images are processed. In general, a mammogram can be described as a low-dose X-ray that allows radiologists to look for changes in breast tissue. The gold standard in breast cancer screening has long been a 2D digital mammogram, which offers two x-ray images of the breast, one top-down and one side-to-side, from side to side of the breast. It identifies a large number of breast cancers but has a limited value: The images are flat, which makes it difficult to interpret because the superimposed tissue can hide cancerous tumors.
Unlike 2D technology, a 3D mammogram is an imaging procedure in which X-rays move in an arc over the breast, taking multiple images from different angles. 3D images are synthesized by a computer in thin images of 1 millimeter, which allows for quick and safe identification of tumors. The radiologist reviews about 200-300 images using a 3D mammogram, compared to four images derived from a 2D mammogram.
Who should get a mammogram?
The recommendations vary depending on age and the risk of developing cancer. Mammography is not performed at the request of the patient; it should be recommended by a specialist doctor.
For women with an average risk of breast cancer, it is recommended from the age of 40-50, periodically, at intervals of 1-2 years. Re-examinations are based on the doctor’s recommendation, depending on the results of the previous mammography.
If a woman’s mother, sister or daughter has had breast cancer, her doctor will recommend annual mammograms before the age of 40.
If the doctor suspects a malignant lesion, based on the symptoms or after an ultrasound examination, he may indicate the mammogram, regardless of the woman’s age.
How important is self-examination?
Self-examination is the simplest test the patient can perform to detect a breast lesion. It is performed at home, preferably in the shower, after the menstrual cycle, once a month, by palpation with 2-3 fingers on each breast in the radial and longitudinal or horizontal direction.
The final cost of a mammogram will certainly depend on whether you have medical insurance, the type of mammogram, and also on your location. It is a necessary test that should be a part of your periodic consultations.
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