Due to COVID-19 we are now offering TeleHealth Office Visits via video or phone call. Learn More >
We have prepared for the Coronavirus (COVID-19). We have updated policies to protect our patients and staff. Learn more.

The Difference Between Screening and Diagnostic Mammography

Screening and diagnostic mammography can be confusing for women, although the aim, process, and focus of imaging are different for the two. To help you understand the difference between diagnostic and screening mammography, here are some explanations.

The Aim of the Examination

Diagnostic mammography investigates abnormalities in the breast identified through self or clinical examinations. The imaging focuses on an area that stands out from the surrounding tissues during previous reviews. Sometimes doctors recommend diagnostic mammography when they want a better understanding of your breast. It is also used to examine breast cancer survivors for the recurrence of cancer.

Screening mammography is used to detect unsuspected lesions. If you do not have any signs of breast cancer, and you don’t feel a lump through self-examination, physicians recommend screening mammography just to make sure everything is fine.

Suitable Age and Frequency

Unlike screening diagnostic, which is suitable for women above 40 years, diagnostic mammography is ideal for women or men of any age but have breast cancer symptoms. You require a referral letter from a medical practitioner for you to have the imaging. However, you do not need a referral letter to go for screening mammography, but it is recommended.

The screening should take place annually. However, if you have a higher risk for breast cancer, you should schedule your screening mammography before reaching 40 years. Radiologists use two Xrays when screening each breast unless the patient has denser breasts.

Breast cancer is treatable when it is diagnosed early. Screening mammography aims to find the cancerous lump while still too small to detect via self-examination or simple clinical examinations. Early diagnosis improves overall breast cancer morbidity and mortality rate. 

Screening mammography’s results take two weeks, while the results for diagnostic mammography take a few days.

More Choice Cancer Care Centers