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Diagnostic Breast Imaging FAQs


Q: What is the difference between Diagnostic Mammography and Breast Screening?

A: Both Diagnostic Mammography and Breast Screening are specialized x-ray procedures of the breast (mammograms).

Diagnostic Mammograms are for women who are having a specific breast problem such as lump, unusual nipple discharge, pain, or have had previous breast cancer or have breast implants. This procedure requires a referral from your family Doctor. Diagnostic Mammograms are available at MedRay Imaging.

Screening Mammograms (Breast Screening) are for women with no known breast problems, who do not have breast implants and who have not had breast cancer. This procedure does NOT require a referral from your family doctor, rather you can refer yourself. You will need to give us the name of your family doctor when you make your appointment since a report is sent to them. These examinations are performed at the Screening Mammography Program of British Columbia centres throughout the province. The Coquitlam SMPBC is located in the Gordon Professional Centre, accessed from the parking lot entrance only. There is no access to SMPBC from the main building lobby or through MedRay Imaging.

Occasionally when a Screening Mammogram is performed further work-up is required. In this instance, you may be referred for further testing – for a diagnostic mammogram or breast ultrasound or both.

Q: Are Diagnostic Mammography and Screening Mammography (Breast Screening) both available at Gordon Professional Centre?

A: Yes, Diagnostic Mammograms are performed at MedRay Imaging in Suite #100. MedRay is located through the main building entrance off the west side (Gordon Avenue).

Screening Mammograms are available only at the Screening Mammography Program of BC which is located in Suite #102. The entrance to the SMPBC is off the parking lot in the southeast corner of the building. There is no access to MedRay from SMPBC or vice versa.

Q: Why would my doctor give me MedRay's telephone number if I need a screening mammogram?

A: Physicians' offices may not know that Diagnostic Mammograms and Screening Mammograms are managed separately. Please check with your physician to ensure that the correct procedure is ordered. Remember that for Diagnostic Mammograms at MedRay Imaging you must have breast symptoms, previous breast cancer or breast implants. You must have a completed referral requisition from your doctor.

Remember that Screening Mammograms are routine examinations available at the SMPBC and patients should not be experiencing breast symptoms. You do not require a doctors referral for Screening Mammography.

Q: Why do I need another Mammogram when I just had one?

A: Usually this is because further detail is required after having a Screening Mammogram. You can discuss the specific reasons for this with your doctor.

Q: Why do I need a Mammogram and an Ultrasound?

A: Sometimes it is necessary to use other imaging techniques to get the best possible information about your breast.

Q: My mother died at an early age from breast cancer. At what age should I have my first mammogram?

A: This should be discussed with your family doctor. In British Columbia breast screening should be started in all women by age 40. For certain women with a higher risk of developing breast cancer the first mammogram may be done at an earlier age even if you have no breast symptoms. If you are under 40 years of age the mammogram must be done in a Diagnostic Centre (not at SMPBC).

Q: The doctor gave me the requisition for my test. Can I book the appointment myself?

A: You can arrange your own appointment time for Ultrasound and Bone Densitometry examinations. To book an appointment for either of these studies you or your physician should call 604.941.7611 and press option 1. Please have your B.C. Care Card ready when you book your appointment.