What Should I Do to Prepare for a Mammogram?

Doctor & Patient 3.9.18Mammograms are the single most effective tool available for early breast cancer detection. Early detection of breast cancer reduces a woman’s risk of dying from the disease by 25% - 30%. If you’re nearing 40 years old- the recommended age for women to begin annually scheduling a mammogram -  you may have a lot of questions about the test and how to prepare for it.

What Is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is simply an x-ray of the breast. Traditional mammograms capture photos of the breast on film, while newer 3D mammograms, also called tomosynthesis, record multiple layers of digital images. Both tests use a low dose of radiation, and you won’t notice a difference between the testing methods. Each test type is designed to detect small abnormalities in your breast before you or your doctor notice.

What Happens During a Mammogram?

During a mammogram, a trained technician will position your breast between two plastic paddles and compress the tissue to expose as much of the breast as possible. While the breast is compressed - an x-ray arm will curve over the breast and record photos from two different angles. The process is repeated for your other breast. The exam can last from 15 to 20 minutes.

Once the images are sent to a radiologist, they study each image for abnormalities. Once analyzed, the images are sent to your primary physician. If results are normal, you’ll schedule another mammogram for the following year. If results are abnormal, you'll be referred for additional diagnostic testing.

How Should I Prepare for My Mammogram?

Mammogram screenings are simple and convenient. However, there are a few steps you can take to make your screening go as smooth as possible.

Before your mammogram:

  • Choose a facility that specializes in mammograms and uses the latest technology
  • Once you find a facility you are satisfied with, set up annual appointments with that same facility
  • Bring any prior mammograms results from other facilities to your current testing facility for comparison purposes
  • Tell your primary physician about any recent changes or problems in your breasts

On the day of your screening:

  • Don’t wear deodorant to your screening as this can alter the x-ray images  
  • Take an Ibuprofen to help with any discomfort you might experience when your breasts are compressed (women don’t typically experience discomfort)
  • Make sure your appointment is not the week before your period
  • Notify the technician if you have breast implants
  • Tell the technician if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • If you have large breasts, you may receive additional breast positioning and x-rays

After the mammogram:

  • Expect your results in 10 days or less
  • A written summary of your test results will be mailed to your home
  • A full report of the screening results will be forwarded to your primary physician

Where Can I Get a Mammogram on Long Island?

At PURE Mammography, we use the latest 3D imaging technology to give you the most accurate mammogram available. Contact us today to schedule a screening or learn more about our state-of-the-art facility.

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