A mammogram is a simple way to test for breast cancer in women. It's recommended that all women over 50 get checked once every two years (1). Additionally, women at risk or have a family history of breast cancer are recommended to start this bi-annual check earlier in life. While mammograms are recommended for all women, many women don’t know what to expect and are often nervous about the experience. We wanted to share with you what to expect during your appointment and some tips.
How to Prepare:
When you are looking to make your first mammogram appointment, try to plan it the week following your period. The breast tends to be less tender during this point of your cycle.
When the day of your appointment comes, try to wear a top and bottoms instead of a dress. That way, you only have to take off your top for the test. Additionally, you won’t be able to wear deodorant the day of your appointment. The white powder can cause problems during the imaging process. Toss your deodorant in your purse to put on after the test.
Show up to your appointment ready to talk about your medical history. If you’ve had mammograms before, or have a family history of breast cancer, share this information with your doctor and the technologist performing the mammogram. Additionally, bring the contact information of your regular healthcare provider so your results can be put into your medical records.
What to Expect:
Once you are in the room, the technologist will ask you to take off your shirt and bra. The technologist will place your breast on a metal plate, and another plate will come down on top to flatten the breasts. This is so the image is of the highest quality, plus, it will only take a couple of seconds. If the compression hurts, don’t be afraid to tell your technologist.
Depending on your breast size and other factors, multiple images may need to be taken. On average, two images of each breast will be taken, each from different views. After your test is complete, you may need to wait for the technologist to check the image quality. Once all the images are deemed high quality, your appointment will be over. Overall, the appointment will take about 20 to 30 minutes.
The Next Steps:
The clinic will mail you your results within 30 days of your test. Additionally, the results will be sent to your healthcare provider. They can help you evaluate your report and move forward if additional action needs to be taken.
Many women are afraid to go into their mammogram procedure. Remember, only 2 to 4 in every 1000 mammograms come back with a breast cancer diagnosis (2). Mammograms are a way to ensure that you will live a long and healthy life.