Mammograms can definitely sound kind of scary. You’ve probably heard your female family members talking about how uncomfortable they are or how much they don’t like them…
We don’t blame you if you’re feeling a little nervous before your first appointment! But not to worry – it’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we want to help you out. So we’ll give you all the information you need so you know exactly what to expect!
Don’t worry, we got you. Firstly, let’s start off with the basics…
What exactly is a mammogram, anyway?
According to the American Cancer Society, a mammogram is “a low-dose x-ray that allows doctors called radiologists to look for changes in breast tissue. It’s purpose is to find or detect breast cancer early, when it’s small and even before a lump can be felt. This is when it’s easiest to treat.”
So a mammogram can provide early indications of breast cancer – which is awesome! But why haven’t you had one already, then? Unless there are other reasons why a woman might need one earlier, “The American College of Radiology, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society of Breast Imaging all recommend that women 40 and older should have a mammogram every year” (Derry).
Alright, so now that we know who is getting them and why you need one, let’s go over what happens at the actual procedure. Here’s how the American Cancer Society describes it:
What to expect when getting a screening mammogram
• You’ll have to undress above the waist to get a mammogram. The facility will give you a wrap to wear.
• A technologist will position your breasts for the mammogram. You and the technologist are the only ones in the room during the mammogram.
• To get a high-quality picture, your breast must be flattened. The technologist places your breast on the machine’s plate. The plastic upper plate is lowered to compress your breast for a few seconds while the technologist takes a picture.
• The whole procedure takes about 20 minutes [or less!]. The actual breast compression only lasts a few seconds.
• You might feel some discomfort when your breasts are compressed, and for some women it can be painful. Tell the technologist if it hurts.
• Two views of each breast are taken for a screening mammogram. But for some women, such as those with breast implants or large breasts, more pictures may be needed.
Now that you know what’s going to happen, here are our best tips to make sure the whole procedure is easy easy and painless as possible.
Don’t wear deodorant. Say what? No, your radiologist isn’t going to tell you you’re smelly. Deodorants can contain certain chemicals which can show up on the x-rays and disturb the image your radiologist is trying to read. And you certainly don’t want to have to come in and do it all over again if your x-ray image isn’t good! Just bring some in your purse with you and you can put it on when you’re done.
Don’t wear a dress. You’re going to have to take your top off but not your bottoms, so wear pants or a skirt with a shirt.
Try to schedule your appointment when you know your breasts are going to feel okay. If your breasts get tender around your period, or you’re pregnant or nursing, that might not be the best time to get it done because mammogram may hurt more.
Try to schedule your mammograms at a place where you think you can go back every year. Your radiologist will have the easiest time reading your mammograms if they are done at the same facility every year. If you’ve had mammograms before at a different facility, bring in your old x-rays to your appointment.
Try to go to a facility that is accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR). This way you can be sure that the equipment is always up to par and the radiologists and technologists are experienced in performing the procedure and interpreting your mammogram.
Don’t forget about the results. Most of the time, you will receive your results letter in the mail shortly after your exam, indicating your results were normal. But if the radiologist finds something suspicious, you’ll be called back (usually within a day or two) for additional views and or sometimes other tests, like a breast ultrasound or breast MRI.
Do you live in New Hampshire or the New England? You should choose Derry Imaging for your next mammogram!
We’re a cutting edge imaging facility which has been awarded the “Breast Imaging Center of Excellence” designation from the American College of Radiology.
We offer 3D mammograms™, which are the most sophisticated breast imaging technology, at no extra cost to you! “3D mammogram™ exams are included as part of your annual screening at no extra charge at Derry Imaging, even if your insurance will not cover the cost of a 3D mammogram™. We believe that 3D mammography™ technology is the standard of care, and every woman should have access to this advanced technology.”
It’ll cost you less and we’ll tell you exactly how much we’ll charge in advance. We’re not a big fan of the secretive guessing games many other facilities like to play with their patients. Tell us your insurance information and the procedure you need, and we’ll tell you exactly what it’ll cost you. On top of that, our costs are usually 40-70% lower than other facilities!
You won’t have to miss work. Our main office in Derry is open from 7am-8pm, so you don’t have to annoy your boss by asking for time off. Our other locations offer flexible hours too – check them out online.