The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends that by the age of 40, women should have their first mammogram. While a mammogram screening is a vital part to early breast cancer detection and successful treatment, it can often seem intimidating to women. Knowing what to expect at your first mammogram appointment can help you feel more comfortable and help the screening go more smoothly.
When scheduling your first mammogram, you should choose an imaging facility that performs them daily. It is important to choose a facility that is also convenient for you to access, so you can go there each year to receive your screening if possible. Once you have found a place that is right for you, you should schedule your appointment when your breasts are not tender or swollen. It is a good rule of thumb to try and avoid having a screening done the week before your period, as you may experience discomfort and not get as clear as a photo as your physician needs.
On the day of your appointment, avoid wearing deodorant beforehand, as many brands contain a substance that shows up on the x-ray as white spots. The white spots from the antiperspirant can distort the image of the x-ray. Simply pack your deodorant in your purse, so you can apply some after the screening is finished. You may also want to think about your wardrobe the day of the mammogram. Many women choose to wear pants rather than dresses, so they only have to remove their shirt and bra for the exam.
When you are at your appointment, you should discuss any changes or abnormalities you have noticed in your breasts recently before the screening. These changes could include change in size or coloring, any lumps or bumps or any tenderness or pain. Also, talk to the technologist about your family’s medical history. Let him or her know if a close relative has had breast cancer before, as this can increase your chance of having it. If you are breastfeeding or could possibly be pregnant, you should tell your technologist before the mammogram. After you have discussed these topics with him or her, you will then proceed with the examination.
First, you will remove your top and bra. The technologist will then properly position your breasts on the machine’s plate. Your breasts must be flattened so that the image is clear. For them to be flattened during the mammogram, an upper plate is lowered to compress your breasts for a few seconds. Women often experience minor discomfort during the compression, but it only lasts a few seconds. If for some reason you experience a lot of pain during this process, you should tell your technologist. The entire appointment typically takes less than 30-minutes! Your healthcare provider will then contact you once they have received your mammogram results.
At Maryville Imaging, our friendly, courteous staff performs mammograms on women daily. We strive to make our patients feel comfortable during the entire process. To schedule your mammogram, call 618-288-4929.