The Dos & Don’ts of Preparing for a Mammogram
A mammogram is an important screening tool that can be more effective and comfortable, if you take the proper steps to prepare.
What Is a Mammogram?
A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray that compresses your breasts to spread out the tissue. Digital images of your breasts are displayed on a screen so a doctor can look for signs of any changes in your breast tissue.
Why Do You Need to Get One?
A mammogram can help detect breast cancer before a lump can be felt. When it’s small and in its earlier stages, it is easier to treat.
There are two types of mammograms: screening and diagnostic.
A screening mammogram takes X-rays of each breast from two angles. It can be used to screen for changes that could indicate breast cancer even before you have any other signs of the disease.
A diagnostic mammogram is performed when you’ve already noticed a change in your breast, such as a lump. It takes additional images, and can also be used to further investigate abnormal findings on a screening mammogram.
Who Makes a Good Candidate for a Mammogram?
The age at which you should start getting mammograms is an individual decision. It’s best to talk to your doctor about your risk factors and preferences and weigh the benefits.
General guidelines for when you should start getting mammograms are:
- For women of average risk of breast cancer – Women can choose to start being screened at age 40, while some groups advise starting at age 45 or 50.
- For women with a high risk – If you have a family history of breast cancer or a history of precancerous breast lesions, you doctor may recommend that you start getting mammograms before the age of 40.
What Are the Risks and Limitations of Getting a Mammogram?
The following are some risks and limitations you and your doctor will want to consider before getting a mammogram:
- You’re exposed to a very low dose of radiation
- Results for younger women can be difficult to accurately interpret
- They’re not always 100% accurate
- Additional testing may be needed
What Are Some Dos and Don’ts of Preparing for a Mammogram?
The following will help you choose the best facility and properly prepare for getting a mammogram:
- Look for an accredited facility – Have your mammogram performed at a facility that’s accredited by the American College of Radiology to ensure the standards and quality of the equipment, technicians and radiologists
- Try to use the same facility – Using the same facility makes it easy to compare your mammograms from one year to another
- Bring your prior images – If you’re going to a facility for the first time but have had prior mammograms, bring a CD with your prior images on if possible for a comparison
- Skip the deodorant – Don’t use any deodorants, antiperspirants, lotions, or perfumes under your arms or on your breasts, since this could interfere with the clarity of your mammogram
- Take OTC pain medication – If your breasts feel uncomfortable during a mammogram, try taking over-the-counter pain medication about an hour before your screening
If you’d like to have a mammogram, make an appointment or simply stop by PURE Mammography in Smith Haven Mall in Long Island, NY. Our spa-like facility is convenient and offers advanced 3D screening interpreted by board-certified radiologists who are sub-specialists in breast imaging. No doctor referral is required.