At the University of South Alabama Children’s & Women’s Hospital Imaging Center, women who visit the hospital for mammography screenings receive test results before they even leave the hospital.
Dr. Yasmeen Qureshi, chief of women’s imaging and assistant professor of radiology, said same-day results actually encourage women to have regular screenings. “They know they will get fast results and most likely won’t have to return for a second visit,” she said.
The process works like this – a patient makes an appointment for their yearly screening. On appointment day, the patient arrives at the breast center at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital and receives a mammogram. Because mammograms at USA are now all digital – not film – the radiologists immediately receive the images at their workstation, where they review the images and compare the results to the patient’s previous mammograms.
The patient is then brought into a consultation room where the radiologist gives the patient a thorough report and reviews any additional information and specific screening advice.
If the radiologist finds something suspicious or if more views are needed, a patient may need an ultrasound – which Dr. Qureshi said is conveniently available in the same location.
“Based on the screenings, if more treatment is indicated, we contact your primary care physician,” Dr. Qureshi said. “Depending on your results, you will either go to your primary care physician or straight to a breast surgeon at Children’s & Women’s Hospital for a surgical evaluation. If a biopsy is needed, you can get one the same day and receive results in 2 or 3 days.”
According to Dr. Qureshi, offering same-day mammography results puts women’s minds at ease. “They know they’re not going to get a call later in the day or week to come back because something looks wrong,” she said. “Women can walk out knowing everything’s OK. They get an answer immediately.”
Because women live very dynamic lives – sometimes juggling a career, children, and aging parents – Dr. Qureshi said it is important for them to receive their results immediately. “It’s often difficult for women to take time out of their busy schedule to come back to the hospital at a later time,” she said. “With same-day results, you don’t have to make the second trip and you don’t get lost to follow up.”
Dr. Qureshi said her mentor, Dr. Allan Green, brought the concept of same-day mammography to USA close to 25 years ago. “Before that,” Dr. Qureshi said, “you would have to leave after your mammogram was completed and wait for a letter in the mail that said your test was normal or wait for a call that said it was abnormal.”
According to Dr. Qureshi, one in eight women will get breast cancer during their lifetime. “Women are usually anxious about their mammography appointment because of fear that something could come back abnormal,” she said. “If a woman is sitting in a waiting room with seven other women, she might be thinking, ‘It could be me.’”
“With same-day results, our goal is to reduce anxiety and provide women a convenient and useful tool in maintaining their health,” Dr. Qureshi added.
Current screening recommendations for breast cancer are annual mammograms starting at the age of 40. For those with a first-degree relative with breast cancer – such as a mother, sister, or daughter – the risk of breast cancer almost doubles and they should be screened yearly beginning at the age of 30.
In addition, monthly breast self-examinations are recommended. “You should look for new lumps, swelling, nipple discharge other than breast milk, and any dimpling or redness of the skin,” Dr. Qureshi said. “If you notice any of these things, let your primary physician know and they will set you up for a mammogram.”
For more information or to schedule a mammogram, call your OB-GYN provider or your primary care provider. You can also call the USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital Imaging Center at (251) 415-1660.