Mammograms: What You Need to Know Prior to an Appointment

A mammogram is a screening procedure that determines the presence of cancerous cells on the breasts.

For those who are susceptible to developing breast cancer, mammograms are considered imperative.

How to prepare

  • Go to a facility that specializes in mammograms and performs many mammograms a day.
  • As much as possible, go to the same facility each time so that the results can be easily compared by the radiologists.
  • If it’s your first time going to a facility, bring your list of the places and dates of mammograms and/or other breast treatments you have had.
  • If you had your previous mammogram done at another clinic, ask them to provide you with a copy of the result and bring that with you on your visit. This way, it’s going to be a lot easier for the new facility to compare the old result with the new one.
  • Prior to your mammogram, make sure that your breasts are not tender or swollen so that the radiologist can get better pictures. Avoid having a mammogram a week before your menstrual cycle.
  • Make sure not to wear any deodorant or antiperspirant during the examination. Most of these products contain a substance that may possibly appear on the x-ray as white spots.
  • For your convenience, avoid wearing a dress. Skirt or pants would be preferable so that you only have to remove your top during the exam.
  • Prior to the exam, talk to your healthcare provider about any new findings or abnormalities on your breasts.
  • Lastly, don’t be scared of mammograms. Keep in mind that out of 1,000 screening mammograms, only two to four results are found to have shown breast cancer.

Other tips to keep in mind

Here are some essential tips to help you get better X-ray results:

  • Inform the technologist performing the mammogram for any breast changes or abnormalities you have observed. In addition, don’t forget to mention about your medical history (anything that you believe can affect your risk of developing breast cancer). This can include hormone use, family history of breast cancer, previous surgery, or history of breast cancer.
  • Make sure to tell the radiologist if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding prior to getting any forms of imaging test.

What to expect

  • The technologist will instruct you to remove your shirt. You will be given a wrap you can wear.
  • The technologist will position your breasts for the mammogram.
  • Your breasts will be flattened in order for the technologist to get a high-quality image. Your breasts will be placed on the machine’s plate. The plastic upper plate will be lowered in order to compress the breasts for seconds while an image is taken.
  • Mammograms usually take about 20 minutes.
  • In some instances, you might feel a little discomfort while your breasts are compressed. You can tell the technologist if it hurts.
  • Two views of each breast will be needed for screening. However, women with large breasts or with breast implants may probably need more than two.

How to get your mammogram results

If you don’t receive any feedbacks regarding your mammogram results within 10 days, do not assume anything about the results. Call the clinic to make sure there’s nothing for you to worry about.

A full report of your mammogram result will be delivered to your doctor. Furthermore, mammography facilities often also provide their patients an easy-to-understand summary of the results within 30 days.

Results should be delivered as soon as possible when they show the presence of cancerous cells. That said, it’s possible to already receive the results even before your doctor gives you a call.