What to expect
What Is a Mammogram?
Regular mammograms are tests used by doctors to detect breast cancer early, and it can be detected up to three years before it can be felt. A mammogram is a low dose X-ray picture of the breast. These pictures allow doctors to see the internal parts of the breast to detect cancer.
How is a mammogram done?
You will stand in front of a special X-ray machine. A trained technologist will place your breast on a plastic plate. Another plate will firmly press your breast from above. The plates will flatten the breast, holding it still while the X-ray is being taken. You will feel some pressure. These steps are repeated to make a side view of the breast. The other breast will be X-rayed in the same way. You will then wait while the technologist checks the four X-rays to ensure the pictures do not need to be re-done. Keep in mind that the technologist cannot tell you your mammogram results. Each woman’s mammogram may look slightly different because all breasts are a bit different.
What does having a mammogram feel like?
A mammogram takes only a few moments with minimal discomfort. What you feel depends on the individual. Your breasts may be more sensitive if you are about to get or have your period. A radiologist will read the mammogram and look for early signs of breast cancer or other problems.
Tips for Getting a Mammogram
Try not to have your mammogram the week before you get your period or during your period. Your breasts may be tender or swollen then.
Don’t wear deodorant, perfume, or powder on the day of your mammogram. These products can show up as white spots on the X-ray.
Some women prefer to wear a top with a skirt or pants, instead of a dress. You will need to undress from your waist up for the mammogram.
When will I get the results of my mammogram?
A radiologist reads your mammogram and then reports the results to you and your doctor. If there is a concern, you will hear from the mammography facility earlier. Contact your health care provider or the mammography facility if you do not receive a report of your results within 30 days.
What happens if my mammogram is normal?
Continue to get mammograms according to recommended time intervals. Mammograms work best when they can be compared with previous ones. This allows the radiologist to compare them to look for changes in your breasts.
What happens if my mammogram is abnormal?
An abnormal mammogram does not always mean that there is cancer. But you will need to have additional mammograms, tests, or exams before the doctor can tell for sure. You may also be referred to a breast specialist or a surgeon.