A woman’s first mammogram experience is deeply personal and, to some, a bit invasive: thus, it can leave even the fiercest females with lingering questions beforehand: “What will compression feel like?” “Will I be in pain or discomfort?” “How long will it take?” By learning how to prepare for and what to expect from this important breast cancer screening exam, you eliminate at least some of the guesswork that may be accompanying your trepidation. We find this lessens the anxiety before the appointment. Of course, the breast health center will inform you of the do’s and don’ts before your first mammogram, but your first breast health screening experience generally will go something like this:
1. Timing is Everything
You do not want to get a mammogram in the days leading up to your period or during your flow if that’s when you experience breast tenderness. It may lead to more discomfort during compression.
2. Do Not Wear Deodorant, Perfume, Body Sprays or Lotion
Be mindful that you can’t wear deodorant, powder, lotion or ointment around your chest or neck. If you DO apply anything, the product may look like an abnormality on the mammogram and the radiologist may mark it as an area of concern when reading the images.
3. Undress from the Waist Up
Wear a two-piece outfit to expedite the dressing and undressing process! You’ll be given a warm robe; this part is not dissimilar from your annual OB appointment.
4. It Takes Less than 15 Minutes
The entire breast screening procedure takes less than 15 minutes. Each of your breasts will be compressed for about 30 seconds during that time.
5. More About Compression
While compression can be uncomfortable, it’s also very important. It allows the breast tissue to spread and flatten. This guarantees a clear view of the breast and reduces the radiation needed to capture detailed images of the breast tissue.
6. You May Not Get Results Immediately; Be Prepared for Further Tests, too
When your mammogram is complete, a specialty-trained radiologist will read your images. If everything looks good, a report will be sent to your physician and you will receive a letter notifying you of your breast health. Sometimes, areas of breast tissue can be noted as suspicious. If that happens, you will be called back for additional images, known as a diagnostic mammogram.
7. Do NOT Delay Your First Mammogram
Women at average risk for breast cancer should get a mammogram every year beginning at age 40. Women with a higher risk of breast cancer should ask their doctor when they should have their first breast health screening and about regular mammograms thereafter. You’ll need to, in the future, arm yourself with up-to-date information and research about what mammograms can and can’t do for you so you’re well-versed about your personal risk
Breast cancer screenings save lives. Period. The technology a mammogram employs consists of low-dose x-rays that create images of your breast tissue and detect lumps that are too small to be felt. Most women receive their first mammogram near 40 years of age. If your doctor is recommending it sooner, he/she has good reason. Keep that in mind.
If you need a breast cancer screening or first mammogram in Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area, consider The Breast Center of Maple Grove for your needs. A premier breast health center, we welcome both walk-ins and appointments. Remember: getting breast health screenings only sets you up for future health successes by providing you with up-to-date information on your own body. Knowing all you can about your body makes a big difference! And if breast cancer is discovered, finding it early can save your life. Call to schedule your first mammogram today: (763) 398-6370.