How To Prepare For A Mammogram

Annual mammograms are an important part of caring for your breast health. A mammogram is an x-ray image of the breast that is used to detect early signs of breast cancer. Many organizations including the United States Preventive Services Task Force, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American College of Radiology recommend women begin screening for breast cancer at age 40. If you’ve just turned 40 or have never had a mammogram before, here’s what you need to know to prepare for your appointment.

Scheduling Your Mammogram

Q: Should I schedule my mammogram around my period?
A: You can get a mammogram anytime during your cycle. If you are able to schedule your mammogram 1-2 weeks after your cycle, you may find it more comfortable. Ultimately, it’s up to you and your comfort level.

Q: Can I get a mammogram with breast implants?
A: Yes! Whether you’ve had a breast reduction, reconstruction, or augmentation, you can still receive an effective mammogram. Mammogram technicians are experienced in tailoring to your specific needs. Your technician will likely take extra images if you have breast implants. Be sure to tell your mammogram technician beforehand if you have had a breast augmentation.

Q: What do I do if I have dense breasts?
A: An estimated 40% of women have some level of dense breast tissue. For those with dense breast tissue, additional screening through a technology known as automated breast ultrasound (ABUS) is often recommended. Breast screening ultrasounds can be completed right after your mammogram, and only take a few minutes to complete. These additional ultrasound images help find any potential cancer risks that dense tissue can hide on a standard mammography scan.

Q: Will breastfeeding affect my results?
A: There is some preparation to do prior to your mammogram if you’re actively breastfeeding. Nursing mothers should try to pump or feed as much as possible before their mammogram to make the images easier to view.

What To Wear To Your Mammogram Appointment

Q: What should I wear to my mammogram?
A: There are no clothing restrictions. Axia Women’s Health provides private changing areas that allow you to put on a gown prior to your scan. For your comfort though, you may prefer to wear a top and bottom versus a one-piece outfit (such as a jumpsuit, dress, romper), as you typically only need to disrobe from the waist up. Some technicians will ask you to remove necklaces, but other jewelry is typically safe to wear.

Q: Can I wear beauty products to my mammogram appointment?
A: We recommend avoiding scented lotions, powders, perfumes or deodorants on the day of your appointment as they can impact results. If you are having your mammogram at the end of the day, simply wipe your arms and chest to remove any fragrance.

What To Expect During/After A Mammogram

Q: Do I have to go to a hospital to have a mammogram?
A: Not necessarily! At Axia Women’s Health, we offer mammography at numerous locations throughout our network, either located in-office, or in close proximity to an OB/GYN care center. This makes scheduling simpler, results faster, and allows for a more convenient appointment for you.

Q: How long does a mammogram typically take?

A: The entire appointment takes about 30 minutes. Each appointment typically begins with a discussion with your technician. The screening process itself typically takes no longer than 5-10 minutes. One-at-a-time, you’ll place each breast onto a plastic platform. Your technician will then lower a plastic plate to compress the breast in order to get the best scan. The only lasts for 10-15 seconds. The technician may need to repeat a few times to get the best images.

Q: Do mammograms hurt?

A: If it’s your first time, the thought of a mammogram may be daunting, but many women report that while uncomfortable, they are not incredibly painful. The latest technologies of 3D tomosynthesis and mammogram techniques allow for a more efficient and comfortable experience. If you are nervous about soreness, you can take Advil or Tylenol prior to the appointment.

Q: What happens after a mammogram?

A: After your appointment, a radiologist will read and interpret your results. Result times may vary, but your care center can provide an estimate as to when you should expect to hear back. In some cases, you may be called back for additional imaging.

If you haven’t yet scheduled your annual mammogram, don’t delay. Mammograms can save lives by finding cancer in its earliest stages when it is most treatable. Axia Women’s Health is here to support you in making caring for your breast health as convenient as possible. Many of our care centers now offer in-suite 3D mammography or are located within a short drive to an Axia Women’s Health mammography center. Click here for more information on our imaging locations.

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