Before your first mammogram, you might feel a little nervous and maybe a little scared. So you take to Google and research what to expect, and all that pops up is some medical jargon that leaves you completely confused and even more anxious!
Here, Pretty In Pink Boutique shares what you really need to know and expect when it comes to your first mammogram.
What is a Mammogram?
You’ve scheduled your appointment so you probably already know what a mammogram is, but if you don’t, in the simplest of terms, it is an X-Ray of breast tissue to help detect any abnormalities. Mammograms are the best tests for finding breast cancer early, up to three years before you or a doctor would feel it.
These low-dose imaging systems are performed by licensed, board-certified technologists called mammographers. Mammographers are specially trained technicians to perform and review breast images of the highest quality with the least amount of radiation exposure.
How to Prepare
- Skip the deodorant, perfume, lotion, ointment, and basically anything that goes on your skin. These products may show up on your mammogram as abnormalities causing unnecessary stress and additional testing. You can wear makeup, as long as it doesn’t go below your jawline.
- Schedule your appointment to fall during the week after your period to avoid sensitive and tender breasts.
- You will have to undress for a mammogram. Wear a two-piece outfit so you only have to remove your top. You will be given a gown to wear, but you may feel more comfortable and less exposed if you are wearing bottoms.
- Wear flat-soled shoes. Mammograms are performed while you are standing and you may be asked to adjust your body for better positioning. To avoid losing your balance, wear flat, comfortable shoes.
- Bring the doctor’s information that ordered the mammogram so the imaging office can share it with that doctor.
- Don’t forget your ID, insurance card, and any questions you may have
- On the day of your appointment, you can eat meals and take medication as normal.
The Mammogram Appointment
When you get a mammogram, you will undress from the waist up and you will be given a gown to wear. During the mammogram, you and the mammographer will be the only people in the room.
The tech will position your breasts one at a time in between two plastic imaging plates, which will apply pressure while taking the X-ray images. Multiple images will be taken from different positions. Each mammogram process will vary slightly from woman to woman since all breasts are a little different.
Flattening out your breast helps spread out the tissue to get a clearer image of the breast tissue. Having your breasts pressed down can be uncomfortable or even painful, but that part of the mammogram only lasts about 30 seconds. A natural reaction to this part of the procedure is to tense up, but try your best to relax (easier said than done), so your muscle is not fighting the machine.
The whole process should take about 15 minutes and your breasts may be sore after the mammogram.
Finally, your mammogram is over and you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done!
What Happens Next?
A radiologist will review your mammogram imaging and report back to you and your doctor. Results typically get back to you within a few weeks. If there is a concern, you will hear back from the imaging facility earlier.
If you don’t receive results in the next month or so- contact your healthcare provider.
If your results come back 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.
My results came back abnormal, now what?
If you are asked to come back for additional images, don’t be alarmed (again, easier said than done.) Many women receive abnormal results after their first mammogram, often because their doctor doesn’t have previous exam results for comparison.
Abnormal results can be caused by cysts, dense breast tissue, or even deodorant. An abnormal mammogram does not always mean that there is cancer. But you will need to have additional mammograms, tests, or exams such as a biopsy, an ultrasound, or a diagnostic mammogram before a doctor can tell for sure.
The findings of this additional imaging are usually benign, meaning the changes are not caused by cancer.
Should I get a Mammogram?
Mammograms are important for early detection so don’t put it off! MD Anderson recommends for women to get their first mammogram at 40 years of age, and then once a year after that. If you are at high risk for breast cancer, talk to your doctor to see if early breast cancer detection, like mammograms, should be a part of your personal health and wellness plan.
Support for Your Journey
No matter what happens post-mammogram, the team at Pretty in Pink Boutique will walk by your side and offer products to make your journey as comfortable as possible. Contact us at 615-777-7465 or email us at [email protected] to schedule your appointment.
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