When you make an appointment to get a mammogram, perhaps these common questions come to mind: When can I get my results? How long will this take? How often should I have this done? Will it hurt? There’s one crucial mammogram question that should come before all those, yet most women never think to ask it.
The Crucial Mammogram Question to Ask
There are plenty of good questions to consider when it comes to your mammogram. But the crucial mammogram question you should be asking is this: WHO is going to read my scan?
It might surprise you to learn that your primary care physician is not the one reading your mammogram. Instead, a radiologist will read it. And it matters what kind of radiologist sees the scan.
Why is this so important? Well, think about a chef who went to culinary school and learned about all the different styles of cooking and the cultures that inspired each one. Now imagine a second chef who went to culinary school and then took a year to specifically study French cuisine. The first chef will have a relatively good understanding of French cuisine, but the second chef will have a much greater depth of knowledge about this particular style of cooking.
Subspecialty is Key to High Detection-Rate
As with the chefs, the same is true for radiologists. A general radiologist goes through training that covers breast, head, upper body, lower body, brain, etc. A breast radiologist goes through that same training and then completes an additional year-long Fellowship training program to study breast imaging in-depth. This would be known as a fellowship-trained or subspecialized breast radiologist.
Breast radiologists spend the bulk of their day making decisions about—you guessed it—the breast. Consequently, the breast radiologist can often catch abnormalities and problems sooner and with greater accuracy. Remember, an earlier diagnosis can lead to earlier treatment, which can result in better health outcomes for the patient.
So the next time you have a mammogram, find out who will be reading it. It’s a crucial mammogram question that needs to be asked more often.
Learn more about the UVA Breast Care Program in this video: