Breast cancer is the second-most common cancer in women, closely following skin cancer. It accounts for 30% of cancer diagnoses in females every year. Mammograms are breast X-rays that play a key role in the early detection of breast cancer.
Because of this, many organizations — including the American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology — recommend that you start getting mammograms regularly at about age 40, although you may need to start earlier if you have a high risk for breast cancer.
If you’ve never had a mammogram before, you might be wondering what to expect.
At Primrose Women’s Health in Dayton, Ohio, our team, led by Carrie Cogley, APRN, offers mammograms as an integral part of women’s health care. Take a moment as we review the mammogram process so you can feel confident and prepared ahead of your first one.
There’s very little you need to do in preparation for your mammogram.
Keep in mind that your breasts can be tender right before or during your period, so it may be wise to schedule your mammogram 1-2 weeks after your period starts to avoid any excessive discomfort.
Before scheduling your mammogram, you need to notify us if you’re pregnant, you’re planning on becoming pregnant, or if you’re breastfeeding. In those instances, we may need to consider alternative diagnostic procedures.
On the day of your exam, avoid wearing any deodorant, perfume, powder, or lotion, since those things can cloud the X-ray images. You also need to undress from the waist up, so you may not want to wear any one-piece clothing, such as a dress or jumpsuit.
We use two types of mammograms at Primrose Women’s Health: screening mammograms and diagnostic mammograms.
We take screening mammograms when you don’t have any health concerns and we’re checking the general health of your breasts. Two pictures are taken at different angles, from top to bottom and side to side.
Diagnostic mammograms, on the other hand, go into more detail when you’ve noticed some abnormalities, such as a lump in your breast.
When it’s time to start the mammogram process, you place your breast on a support plate attached to the X-ray machine. Our X-ray tech then places a paddle on top of your breast in order to flatten it and spread it out to get clear images of your breast tissue.
While your breasts are compressed, the X-ray takes all of the necessary images. The compression lasts only a few seconds and may cause some discomfort, but let our team know if it hurts so we can adjust the compression as needed.
The same process is repeated for your other breast, and after both breasts are examined, you can re-dress and leave our office.
You should receive your mammogram results within a few days. However, timelines can vary, so make sure to talk with our team before you leave about when you can expect to see your results.
If your mammogram is normal, you can go ahead and schedule your next mammogram. Abnormal mammogram results mean that something suspicious turned up on the X-ray images. More testing will most likely be needed, but our team can discuss your case specifically.
While the thought of getting your first mammogram can be scary, our team is here to walk you through every step. To see if it’s time to set up your next mammogram, contact our team by giving us a call at 937-345-0009 or schedule an appointment online today.