If you are approaching 40 years old, it is time to have your first mammogram screening. Some women become anxious and worry about all sorts of unknowns. We are here to tell you that sometimes anticipating something is worse than the actual event. So take heart and learn what you should know before your first mammogram.
Mammograms Are Not Painful
You may feel some discomfort as your breasts are squeezed together to get a clear picture. If there is anything close to pain, it lasts but a few seconds. Let the technologist know if you are uncomfortable.
Focus On The Value
The American Cancer Society tells us that since mammograms were first introduced in the 1980s, there have been 30% less deaths from breast cancer in women. It is important to have a mammogram now every year to safeguard your health. Aggressive cancers have become more common in women in their forties, so don’t miss any. A few minutes of discomfort could save your life.
Continue To Have Annual Mammograms Even Without Risk Factors
75% of women who have breast cancer have no risk factors. Same message as above: continue to have annual breast exams to protect yourself because cancers detected at an early stage are easier to treat successfully with a better prognosis.
Choose Your Imaging Facility Carefully
If possible, choose one that specializes in mammograms, and then continue to go back to the same one each year. That way they have all your past reports and images, and the radiologist can compare year over year.
Schedule Your Date With Your Period In Mind
Don’t schedule your mammogram the week prior to your period as your breast may be extra tender or swollen.
You will be undressing from the waist up, so avoid dresses or one piece outfits. Keep it simple so you can remove just a shirt and your bra. You will be given a covering to wear.
It is best to schedule your test in the morning. Do not use perfume or deodorant on that day as it can interfere with the test and show up on the images. Bring some antiperspirant with you to wear afterward.
The Test Will Be Private
Only you and the technologist will be in the room during your mammogram. Make them aware of any changes to your breast of late or any problems you may be having.
There Will Be 2 Pictures Of Each Breast
In order to get a good picture each breast will be placed on a plastic plate while another will be lowered to flatten out the breast. Most times there will be 2 angles taken of each breast. If you have very dense breasts or implants, more might be needed. The process only takes about 20 – 30 minutes and you will be on your way.
The Radiologist On Site Will Review
While you are still there the Radiologist will review the images in case another view might be needed. In most cases, you will get a call from your doctor when the final results of the test have been sent to them. This normally takes about 10 days. If you don’t hear from your physician, call them.
First and foremost, there is nothing to fear. Having your first mammogram and all the successive ones is the most effective way to detect cancer.