Mammogram Q&A with Clint Merritt, M.D.

Early detection is important when it comes to breast cancer. Clint Merritt, M.D., co-medical director of breast care with Utica Park Clinic, answers some common mammogram questions.

• What is the recommended age for annual mammogram screenings in Oklahoma?

Patients are recommended to begin annual screening mammography at the age of 40. Patients with known genetic-related risk, or those with significant family history of breast, ovarian, pancreatic cancers or malignant melanoma, should have a personal breast cancer risk evaluation performed to see if they need breast imaging beginning before the age of 40.

All women are recommended to have a breast cancer screening performed by the age of 30, which especially applies to women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Risk assessment can be done by most PCPs or breast care specialists.

• How can I get a mammogram if I do not fall into the above categories, but feel something suspicious or have breast cancer in my family history?

In these situations, it is best to be seen by a provider specializing in breast care or your primary care physician. For specialist visits, most insurances will require a referral from your primary care provider.

• What age does insurance begin to cover an annual screening?

Most insurances will cover annual screening mammography beginning at the age of 40.

• Are referrals required for a mammogram?

Some types of mammograms will need an order from a physician to be scheduled. This is because the results of the mammogram will need to be forwarded to the ordering physician for follow-up care. However, screening mammography does not require an order from a physician.

• How often should I get a mammogram? What factors determine the frequency of mammograms?

Average-risk patients and/or those with normal mammogram findings need an annual screening mammogram. Any abnormal or concerning findings may warrant more frequent imaging. Patients at high-risk for breast cancer may need additional screenings with ultrasounds and/or MRIs yearly.

• What different types of mammograms are available? How do I know which is right for me?

Most mammograms are now in digital format. Digital formats include 2D and 3D mammography. Patients with dense breast tissue are recommended to receive 3D digital mammography, which is available at Hillcrest Medical Center and Hillcrest Hospital South. 3D mammography is covered by most insurance plans.

Don’t delay. Schedule your annual mammogram online today or call 918-268-3565.