What is the experience of getting a mammogram like?
For some, just thinking about getting a mammogram can be stressful. But it doesn't have to be. Finding the right facility and people to perform the exam and convey the findings to you are some of the most important steps you can take to can make it as stress-free as possible. There are plenty of caring, patient people who will be happy to answer your questions and take you through the process in a friendly, pleasant manner.
At the bottom of this column, there's a directory to find many of the mammogram facilities near you.
SCHEDULING THE APPOINTMENT:
The American Cancer Society (ACS) and other mammogram organizations recommend that you discuss any new findings or problems in your breasts with your doctor before scheduling a mammogram. In addition, inform your doctor of any prior surgeries, hormone use, and family or personal history of breast cancer.
Mammography is performed on an outpatient basis. The day of your actual appointment you may be in the mammogram clinic for up to an hour.
If it’s possible, try not to schedule your mammogram during the week before your period. Many women’s breasts can be tender during this time. The phase of a menstrual cycle does not affect the quality of the images but you may want to consider what time is best for your individual comfort.
Always inform your doctor and/or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that you are pregnant. Mammograms are not done for routine screening during pregnancy. Also inform your doctor and/or x-ray technologist or are breast-feeding. Mammograms are performed at this time but may not be as clear due to the milk in the breasts. Also inform them if you have breast implants. These mammogram tests will require a slightly modified method.
Make sure the radiologist knows if you have previously had a breast biopsy. The radiologist reading your results will want to know where the scar tissue from that area would likely show up on the images. And in all cases, make any prior mammograms available to the radiologist so they can compare them to the current test.
THE NIGHT AND MORNING BEFORE:
Antiperspirants, deodorants, and powders should not be worn during a mammography test. These can cause the images to appear foggy, and powders can sometimes simulate the appearance of calcifications. Even some lotions can affect the imaging.
Avoid applying cosmetics, oils, creams and any lotions for many hours, if not the entire night before the test just to make sure your skin is clear for the best images possible.
Fastphying is not necessary the day of the test, nor do you have to change your diet in any particular way. However some women may want to lower their intake of caffeine (such as coffee, cola, and chocolate) as it could make the breasts tender during the test.
Wear something comfortable – most find it preferable to wear two-piece clothing, such as pants and a top, to simplify undressing later for the test.
- What is a mammogram?
- Why would someone need or get a mammogram?
- What are the different types of mammograms?
- What is getting a mammogram like?
- What are the costs of a mammogram?
- When should I get a mammogram?
- What are the risks of a mammogram?
- What are false-positives and false-negatives?
- Differences with screening, diagnostic & biopsy?