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Riverside breast cancer experts recommend women age 40 and over have a screening mammogram every year. This is an important part of detecting breast cancer early when tumors are easier to treat.



A screening mammogram looks for signs of breast cancer in women who do not have any breast symptoms.  A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray that allows radiologists to look for changes in breast tissue, even before a lump can be felt, detecting breast cancer early, when it’s easiest to treat.

Based on recommendations from the American College of Surgeons, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, the American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging, Riverside recommends the following screening guideline for women at average risk of breast cancer, and for those at high risk for breast cancer.

Women who are at average risk (without a personal or strong family history of breast cancer) should begin annual screening mammograms (consider tomosynthesis) beginning age 40.

Women who are at high risk for breast cancer based on certain factors should talk with their provider about what age to start annual mammograms, and if a breast MRI may be recommended in addition to the mammogram.

You may be considered high risk if you:

  • Have a personal or strong family history of breast cancer
  • Have a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation (based on having had genetic testing)
  • Have a first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister, or child) with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, and have not had genetic testing themselves
  • Had radiation therapy to the chest when they were between the ages of 10 and 30 years
  • Have Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome, or have first-degree relatives with one of these syndromes

Schedule a mammogram on MyChart or call our Central Scheduling Office Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

On the Peninsula, Williamsburg, Gloucester and Smithfield call 757-989-8830, option 2. On the Eastern Shore call 757-302-2102 option 2.

Why get your mammogram at Riverside?

It matters where you go for a mammogram. “Choosing a diagnostic facility that is accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR) for mammography matters”, says Riverside’s fellowship trained mammographer, Benjamin Pettus, M.D. 

The ACR is the leader in quality programs for breast imaging. Riverside is accredited by the ACR for screening mammography. Our ACR-accredited centers offer advanced screening and diagnostic services close to home.

The Riverside Diagnostic & Breast Imaging Center in Newport News, Williamsburg, and Gloucester are designated as a Breast Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology (ACR) due to its accreditation in all available forms of screening and diagnosis which are used to help detect breast cancer earlier when the chance for cure is greatest. 

In order to receive this designation, a Breast Center of Excellence must meet the following criteria:

  • Mammography by the ACR (or an FDA-approved state accrediting body)
  • Stereotactic Breast Biopsy by the ACR
  • Breast Ultrasound by the ACR (including the Ultrasound-Guided Breast Biopsy module)
  • Breast MRI by the ACR or within the ACR network

Advanced screening and diagnostic services close to home.

ACR Breast Center of Excellence

  • Riverside Diagnostic & Breast Imaging Center Newport News
  • Riverside Diagnostic Center Williamsburg
  • Riverside Walter Reed Hospital

ACR Accredited

  • Riverside Diagnostic Center Hampton
  • Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital
  • Riverside Diagnostic Center Smithfield

When at all possible, the radiologist should have the X-ray films from your previous — or at least most recent — mammograms (not just the written report) for comparison. This helps the radiologist find small changes and detect a cancer as early as possible. Because getting the X-ray films from previous mammograms can be a challenge, it is best to find a facility that you are comfortable with and plan to get your regular mammograms there each year. That way, your prior films are easily available.

For patients that may require diagnostic imaging, Riverside’s ACR Accredited Diagnostic Centers offer contrast enhanced mammography, BSGI (breast-specific gamma imaging), and breast ultrasound.

There is help if you are uninsured and unable to afford your annual screening mammogram

If you are uninsured, unable to qualify for Medicaid or Medicare and unable to afford your annual screening mammogram, please contact our Cancer Outreach Office for assistance at 1-800-520-7006. Riverside is able to offer screening mammograms and cervical cancer screenings at no cost to eligible women through the grant support of the Every Woman’s Life Program (part of the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program - NBCCEDP), and the Riverside Health System Foundation.

If breast cancer is detected, women diagnosed through this program are automatically enrolled in Medicaid for their treatment. For more information on this program, or to see if you qualify, please call 1-800-520-7006.

Don't delay routine cancer screenings

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to patients putting off recommended cancer screenings, which could delay diagnosis and postpone potentially lifesaving treatments. One National Cancer Institute model predicts that more than 10,000 additional cancer related deaths in the U.S. can be expected over the next decade as a result of COVID-19 delays in diagnosing cancers and treating tumors.  Resuming regular cancer screenings saves lives. Learn what to expect when coming to Riverside Diagnostic Center for your mammogram.

Scheduling routine screening mammogram around your COVID-19 vaccine

The guidelines for timing your mammogram around your COVID-19 vaccine are for women who do NOT have breast symptoms.  “Do not delay a diagnostic breast exam – for any reason – if you have a symptom that concerns you. This could be a sign of breast cancer or another condition that needs attention,” says fellowship trained mammographer Benjamin Pettus, M.D. “Consult your health care provider right away.”  Learn more about scheduling your mammogram around your COVID-19 vaccine.

Helpful information about mammograms

  • You will need to remove clothing from the waist up. Wear a blouse, sweater or two-piece outfit.
  • Do not use deodorant, powder, perfume, ointment, or cream on your breasts or underarms. This can leave residue that interferes with the test results.
  • For some women, caffeine causes breast tenderness. One to two weeks before your exam, cut back or stop consuming products with caffeine (for example, coffee, tea, chocolate, cola).
  • If you have any special health needs or considerations, please feel free to call and notify the appropriate center.
  • If there is any chance you may be pregnant, please inform the technologist before the exam.

Appointment day

Plan to arrive about 20 minutes before your appointment time for check-in. Please bring these items with you:

  • A list of medications you are taking
  • Your most recent mammogram films
  • Proof of identification
  • Insurance card
  • Copayment, if any


A radiologist will review the mammogram images and send a written report to your doctor. The results will be part of your electronic medical record. You can view your results using Riverside MyChart.

Insurance coverage

If you have questions about whether or not your insurance will pay for screening mammograms, please contact your insurance carrier. Here is a list of insurance we accept.


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