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What Is a Mammogram?

Mammography is an imaging procedure that uses low-energy x-rays to examine the breast.

It's one of the best tools to screen for or detect breast cancer and other abnormalities.

Because mammography produces such high-quality images of the breast, it can show cancer that may be too small for you or your doctor to feel.

UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital is committed to caring for the breast health needs of all patients at any age. We have personalized screening (recommended imaging) that is based on age, breast density, and risk. If you have any questions about our personalized screening recommendations, please ask for a brochure made by our breast imaging experts.

The Society of Breast Imaging and the American College of Radiology support annual mammography exams starting at age 40, as this saves the most lives. It is up to you and your doctor to decide on routine exams or diagnostic evaluation. Please log on to or to learn more.

What Is a Screening Mammogram?

Screening exams are done to find cancer before there are any symptoms. Even if you are not having any breast problems, an exam is still recommended and should also be done if you have a personal or family history of breast cancer, benign breast disease, or breast implants. A prescription is not needed for this exam.

Please keep in mind that:

  • Your exam will be done by a technologist.
  • This exam will take about 30 minutes.
  • Your results will be ready within 2 to 3 business days in MyUPMC. If you are not registered with MyUPMC, we can help you get started. Your exam results will also be sent to your home.
  • This exam is covered by your insurance.

Schedule Your Mammogram

What Is a Diagnostic Mammogram?

Diagnostic exams are done when there are problems such as a lump, nipple discharge, nipple inversion, a change in skin color or texture, or a change in the size or shape of the breast.

This test may also be done if you are asked to return after your first exam for more evaluation. A prescription is need for this exam.

Please keep in mind that:

  • Other tests such as breast ultrasound or digital breast tomosynthesis (3D mammography) may also be done if needed.
  • This exam will take about 2 to 3 hours.
  • Your exam results will be given to you before you leave.
  • Based on the findings, the radiologist will recommend that you return for annual screening or diagnostic mammograms.
  • There is also a chance that the radiologist may ask for a breast biopsy if more information is needed about your breast health.
  • This exam may have a copay. Please check with your insurance provider.

Scheduling Your Mammogram

Online scheduling is available for screening mammograms. Prefer to schedule over the phone? Call 412-641-4700 or 1-800-649-4077.

Learn More

Follow the beat for a healthier life. Read our blog post to learn the answers to frequently asked questions about mammography.