Mammograms

Know this: Mammograms don’t hurt. It only takes 10 minutes. And it’s the best way to detect if you have breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends that once you turn 40, you should get a yearly mammogram, along with doing a monthly self-exam and annual physician breast exam.

Here’s how you can prepare for your mammogram:

Know when to schedule

Schedule the test for a time when your breasts are less likely to be tender. This is often the week after your menstrual period. Breasts are most likely to be tender the week before and during your menstrual period.

If you’re a new patient, gather any prior original mammogram films (not copies) and bring them with you to your appointment so that the radiologist can compare them with your new digital images. Or you can also authorize a medical release to SIH Breast Center and we will request your films are sent to us for comparison from your previous facility.

Preparing for your appointment

Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t use any deodorant, powder or ointment of any kind on the underarm area or on your breasts. Metallic particles in powders and deodorants could be visible on your mammogram and cause confusion.
  • During the test, you will be asked to undress to the waist. Two-piece outfits make this a little easier.
  • Taking an over-the-counter pain medication, such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) about an hour before your mammogram might ease the discomfort of the test.

What happens during a mammogram?

You will be given a gown and asked to remove jewelry and clothing from the waist up. There is a locker for your personal items and you will hold the key during your exam. After changing, you will go across the hall to the mammography suite, where the mammography tech will review your personal history with you.

During the procedure, the technician places one of your breasts on a platform and helps you position your head, arms and torso to allow an unobstructed view of your breast.

Your breast is gently pressed against the platform by a clear plastic plate. Pressure is applied for a few seconds to spread out the breast tissue. The pressure isn’t harmful, but you may find it uncomfortable. If you have too much discomfort, inform the technician.

Your breast must be compressed to even out its thickness and permit the X-rays to penetrate the breast tissue. The pressure also holds your breast still to decrease blurring from movement and minimizes the dose of radiation needed. During the brief X-ray exposure, you’ll be asked to stand still and hold your breath.

The entire test takes about 10 minutes. Afterward, you may dress and resume normal activity. We provide deodorant and wipes for your convenience. Typically, you will know the results of your test within a few business days.

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