Top 5 Things to Know Before Getting Screened
You’re 40 and your primary physician tells you it’s time to get your first mammogram. What are you feeling? Fear? Anxiety? Don’t panic. A mammogram is a quick, easy test designed to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages.
Why Should I Get a Mammogram?
The purpose of screening mammograms is to detect breast cancer early, giving doctors the best chance of curing the disease with less invasive surgeries and treatment options. According to the National Cancer Institute, the mortality rate from breast cancer has decreased by 30%, since mammograms became routine in the early 1990s. That’s a remarkable decline when you consider that the breast cancer mortality rate was virtually unchanged for the previous half century.
Mammograms aren’t only for women with a family history of the disease. In fact, 75% of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer don’t have any relatives who’ve battled breast cancer and don’t have any identifiable risk factors like obesity or tobacco use.
What to Know Before Scheduling Your First Mammogram
Although a mammogram screening is a fast and easy exam, you can employ the following steps to ensure that you get the best experience possible.
Choose a Certified Mammography Center – Look for a mammography center that is a designated Center of Excellence. This seal of approval from the American College of Radiology certifies that the facility meets or exceeds standards set forth for mammography centers.
Additionally, a Center of Excellence signifies that the radiologists specialize in reading mammograms, giving them a more practiced eye over radiologists who only read mammograms occasionally.
Schedule Your Mammogram After Your Period – Breasts are usually tender the week leading up to and during your period. Schedule your mammogram the week after the end of your period for your comfort.
Take Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers – Before your appointment, take a dose of Tylenol or Advil to reduce any discomfort from the scan. During your mammogram, your breasts are flattened between two plastic paddles to expose an even layer of tissue to the x-ray machine. Although most women find the procedure painless or feel only slight discomfort, some women have lingering pain after the mammogram.
Don’t Wear Deodorant – An active ingredient in antiperspirants shows up as tiny white specks on a mammogram. These specks mar the mammogram results and blend in with real breast abnormalities. If you accidentally wear deodorant to your appointment, you can wash it off by using an individually wrapped wet wipe available in the dressing room.
Find Out Your Family History – Learn about your family’s health history, especially if anyone has had breast cancer, so that you can accurately answer all questions on your pre-mammogram paperwork. With a detailed health history, your radiologist is armed with the information they need to accurately read your scan.
Expect a Fast Appointment – Once you’re checked in, the time from changing into a gown until completion of the scan is about 15 to 30 minutes. The technician will take four x-ray images of your breasts—two from the side and two from the top down.
Where Can I Get My First Mammogram on Long Island?
PURE Mammography is a certified Center of Excellence mammography facility that uses state-of-the-art 3D imaging for all of our mammograms. Contact us today to find out more or make an appointment.