woman reviewing results on table

For women about to undergo their first mammogram, or even for those who have already adopted the routine, we understand questions may arise about mammography and its purpose.

Below are frequently asked questions from women answered by Dr. Margarita Zuley, director of breast imaging at Magee-Womens Imaging of UPMC.

How often should I have a mammogram?

Dr. Zuley: If you are forty or older you should have an annual screening mammogram yearly.

What are ways to avoid discomfort during a mammogram?

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Dr. Zuley: Some women experience slight discomfort when they have a mammogram. Those tend to be younger women who are thin and have what we call “dense breast tissue,” which is a lot of breast tissue in their breast. If that happens a couple things you could do: don’t drink a lot of caffeine before you come and take some Tylenol if you are able to take some before you come – those will help to reduce the discomfort. Also, the patient is in control during the study and they can ask the technologist to stop compression if it hurts.

What if I am called back following my mammogram?

Dr. Zuley: Screening mammography is meant to detect every possible abnormality that could exist. Most of the time when we recall a patient from a screening (mammogram) they do not have breast cancer. It is uncommon that they do. Most of the time it’s just that we need to take additional images. Tomosynthesis should help relieve this stress and anxiety significantly.

What is tomosynthesis?

Dr. Zuley: Tomosynthesis is an advanced mammogram where the x-ray tube moves through a small arc and we get a series of pictures that we can look at through thin slices analogous to looking at every page in a book as opposed to looking through a whole book with a clear cover on it. It allows us to be more accurate and find smaller lesions.

What are the benefits of tomosynthesis over traditional mammography?

Dr. Zuley: At this point in time we feel that tomosynthesis will benefit the majority of our women. If you are a screening patient it should improve our ability to find early cancer and reduce the chance that we will recall you for additional views. If you are presenting with a problem it’s possible that the radiologist will feel tomosynthesis will benefit you and will perform the test as needed.

How do I schedule a mammogram?

Dr. Zuley: It’s very easy to schedule a mammogram. One way is to call our Toll Free number which is 1-800-649-4077 or you can go to our website which is UPMC.com/Magee. At the website you just enter your name and phone number and e-mail address and we’ll contact you and help you make that appointment.


For all other questions, speak with a dedicated support person by calling 1-800-649-4077.

About UPMC Magee-Womens

Built upon our flagship, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh, and its century-plus history of providing high-quality medical care for people at all stages of life, UPMC Magee-Womens is nationally renowned for its outstanding care for women and their families.

Our Magee-Womens network – from women’s imaging centers and specialty care to outpatient and hospital-based services – provides care throughout Pennsylvania, so the help you need is always close to home. More than 25,000 babies are born at our network hospitals each year, with 10,000 of those babies born at UPMC Magee in Pittsburgh, home to one of the largest NICUs in the country. The Department of Health and Human Services recognizes Magee in Pittsburgh as a National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health; U.S. News & World Report ranks Magee nationally in gynecology. The Magee-Womens Research Institute was the first and is the largest research institute in the U.S. devoted exclusively to women’s health and reproductive biology, with locations in Pittsburgh and Erie.


About UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

When you are facing cancer, you need the best care possible. UPMC Hillman Cancer Center provides world-class cancer care, from diagnosis to treatment, to help you in your cancer battle. We are the only comprehensive cancer center in our region, as designated by the National Cancer Institute. We have more than 70 locations throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York, with more than 200 oncologists – making it easier for you to find world-class care close to home. Our internationally renowned research team is striving to find new advances in prevention, detection, and treatment. Most of all, we are here for you. Our patient-first approach aims to provide you and your loved ones the care and support you need. To find a provider near you, visit our website.