The annual mammogram for women age 40 and over is vital in the early detection of breast cancer. Here’s what to expect:
- When scheduling your mammogram, do so during the point in your menstrual cycle when your breasts are the least tender. Specify if you prefer a male or female technician, and consider taking an over-the-counter pain reliever beforehand if you’re worried about discomfort.
- Do not use underarm deodorant, body powder, or creams: bring them along to apply afterwards.
- The mammography technician will ask you questions such as if you have any lumps in your breasts or have had breast surgery. If you have breast implants, let the technician know.
- The technician might place stickers on your nipples and on any moles you may have on your breasts, so they are easier to identify in the final images.
- You’ll take the test standing up — the height of the machine will be adjusted so you can easily place your breast onto the “shelf” of the machine. The technician will position your breast correctly as you lean in.
- As the machine compresses your breast, you’ll be asked to hold your breath. It takes only a few seconds for the image to be captured, then the machine will automatically release your breast. It might be uncomfortable, even a bit painful.
- A basic mammogram requires four images: one of each breast compressed from top to bottom and one of each breast compressed from side to side. The technician might take more if he or she sees a possible lump, or if the doctor has requested another angle.
- Once all the images are captured, don’t get dressed and leave just yet — the technician may need take additional images.
- Technicians cannot discuss your results with you — they must send them to your doctor.
Online Resources And Support Groups