Breast imaging

Types of imaging

At UW Health, we use advanced imaging modalities including digital mammography, digital breast tomosynthesis, ultrasound, and breast MRI to find breast cancer as early as possible. We provide screening and diagnostic imaging services.

Screening mammography

Screening mammographies are an important part of your health maintenance.

A screening mammogram is used to detect breast changes in patients who do not have signs or symptoms of breast cancer. Screening mammograms are proven to detect breast cancer early, when it is most treatable, and save lives. We use digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) and/or full field digital mammography at our UW Health locations. Please call the specific location for more information. All women should talk to their doctor about when to have their first mammogram, especially if they are at high risk for breast cancer.

A radiology technologist specially trained in mammography takes mammogram images of your breasts. The technologist places each breast between two smooth flat plates. The plates gently compress the breast to get the highest quality images. The pressure might be slightly uncomfortable. Compression is brief, but important.

A radiologist views and interprets your breast images on specialized computer monitors.

At UW Health, we recommend these guidelines if you are at average risk for breast cancer. If you think you might be at high risk for developing breast cancer, please contact our PATHS clinic.

Age 40-49: Talk with your doctor at age 40. Understand your breast cancer risks. Know your preferences for breast cancer screening. Consider a screening mammogram every one to two years.

Age 50-74: Get a screening mammogram every one to two years.

Age 75 and older: Consider a screening mammogram every one to two years, based on your doctor’s recommendations.

Diagnostic mammography

Diagnostic mammographies are usually scheduled by your provider in cases where a closer evaluation is needed.

This type of mammogram is most often performed for women with signs or symptoms of breast cancer to get more information after a screening mammogram shows an area of concern. A diagnostic mammogram includes additional images of the breast.

A diagnostic mammogram involves one or more special mammogram images taken from different angles. These allow detailed evaluation of an area of the breast. This test is often used for one of two reasons: a new clinical finding or an abnormal screening mammogram.

Other types of imaging

In addition to mammography, we use a variety of tools and technologies to screen, detect and diagnose breast cancer. If cancer is suspected, these tests help our doctors further investigate to understand the type of cancer, as well as determine the stage and location of the cancer.

Breast ultrasound is an imaging test that uses sound waves to create an image of the breast tissue. An ultrasound is used if there is a possible finding on a mammogram or if there is a symptom of breast cancer, such as a lump.

Breast ultrasound (diagnostic only)

When breast cancer is possibility, a biopsy is often recommended. A biopsy is a tissue sample of the area of concern that will be sent for review by a Pathologist to confirm whether or not there is cancer present. Breast imaging Radiologists use images to guide them to the location of an abnormality to use biopsies. Ultrasound is often used to guide biopsy, but mammograms can also be used (called a stereotactic biopsy) and MRI can guide a biopsy as well. After tissue samples are taken, a tiny marker clip will be used to mark the location for future mammograms or surgery.

Learn more

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the breast is used for screening in some patients at increased risk for breast cancer and also to determine the extent of cancer in some patients who have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Sometimes it is also used to find the source of a suspected cancer or to monitor response to therapy for breast cancer.

Learn more

Abbreviated breast MRI (AB-MRI) is a shortened version of breast MRI that is designed to screen patients with dense breasts for additional breast cancers not seen on mammography. Traditional 2D mammography and digital breast tomosynthesis can miss invasive breast cancers in people with dense breast tissue, so AB-MRI provides a clearer picture for these patients, reducing the risk of a missed cancer diagnosis.

Learn more about dense breast tissue
Dr. Roberta Strigel explains the tools providers use to screen women for breast cancer.


How to schedule

Screening mammograms

There are three ways to schedule a screening mammogram:

UW Health MyChart users can schedule screening mammograms online through their MyChart account.

Go to MyChart

Contact your primary care provider and they can assist you with scheduling a screening mammogram.

To schedule your mammogram, contact the location directly at the information listed below.

View location information

Additional information

If you are asked to have diagnostic mammogram images following a screening mammogram, a UW Health staff member will contact you to schedule the appropriate appointments.

PriceLine can provide cost information regarding breast imaging exams. Call (608) 263-1507

The Wisconsin Well Women Program can assist patients without insurance coverage pay for screening mammograms. Call (608) 266-8311

UW Health's PATHS Clinic can assist women who have an increased risk of breast cancer evaluate their breast cancer risk and come up with a personalized screening and treatment plan.


How to find us

UW Health Wisconsin mammogram locations

You can schedule a screening mammogram at any Wisconsin location below by calling either (608) 266-6400 or (608) 287-2050.

  • Breast Center (University Hospital)

  • Breast Center (1 S Park St Medical Center)

  • DeForest-Windsor Clinic

  • E Terrace Dr Medical Center

  • Junction Rd Medical Center

  • Odana Rd Clinic

  • Union Corners Clinic

  • Yahara Clinic

UW Health Northern Illinois mammogram locations

  • 1340 Charles St Clinic Breast Health Center (Rockford): (779) 696-7676

Same day appointments are available at the following locations. Schedule on MyChart or call your nearest location.

Our Team

The breast imaging team

The breast imaging team at UW Health includes radiologists who are experts in all areas of imaging.

UW Health Breast Center

Our Breast Center teams have a level of experience with cancer and non-cancerous conditions that is unsurpassed in the region.

Learn more


More ways we can help

We partner with the Wisconsin Well Woman Program to provide breast and cervical cancer screenings for women of lower income in our service area with little or no health insurance coverage. Learn more about the program

UW Health’s Wisconsin Well Woman Program patient navigator, Ana Karina Cuellar-Montes, MSW, APSW, can help you:

  • Manage your breast and cervical health

  • Create an individualized plan to resolve barriers to screenings

  • Navigate through diagnosis and treatment for breast and cervical cancer

  • Address challenges in your life related to your health care by providing a comprehensive and culturally sensitive assessment

  • Connect with insurance, lodging, emotional support, financial assistance and transportation

  • Connect with a primary health care provider

  • Find important support resources as well as provide you with emotional support

If you are located in southern Wisconsin, please contact the UW Health Breast Center at (608) 266-6400 and ask to speak with our Wisconsin Well Woman Program patient navigator.