Mammogram: what to expect

Posted on 26 March 2013

A routine mammogram could be your best defence against breast cancer. Don’t delay because you’re unsure of what it involves – make an appointment today. 

Here’s what you can expect when you go for your appointment:
1.    On the day, don’t wear deodorant or powder, or apply body lotion on and around your breasts. And wear a top with jeans or a skirt rather than a dress as you’ll be asked to remove your top and bra – don’t worry, you get a gown to cover up.
2.    The mammographer will take you to a room where you’ll stand in front of a machine used only for mammograms. Your breast will be positioned ?on a flat plastic plate that is placed against you ribcage.
3.    A second plastic plate is lowered onto the breast, and with pressure evens out the breast tissue. This allows the machine to get as clear a picture as possible. (This should be mildly uncomfortable.)
4.    The moment the low-dose X-ray is taken, the pressure lifts. This is then repeated on the other breast. A similar procedure is followed on both breasts for the side view. (The entire process takes about seven minutes – so it’s fairly quick and painless.)
5.    You will then be asked to wait before you get dressed, so they can check the images to make sure they’ve got a good picture.

That’s it for most mammograms. In some cases, however, the radiologist reviewing the mammogram will want to perform an ultrasound as well. It’s not necessary to panic though – the radiographer may want a second look, especially if you have dense breast tissue, which occurs if the tissues of your breasts are fibrous and/or glandular. (Younger women usually have denser breasts – as women age, their breasts tend to become less dense.)

Afterwards, you’ll get dressed and wait a few minutes in the waiting room, where they’ll give you a disc containing the images and a report to the referring doctor, with a recommendation of when you should return for your next routine mammogram.

For our previous post on when to have a mammogram and what your results mean, click here.

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The information provided in this article was correct at the time of publishing. At Mediclinic we endeavour to provide our patients and readers with accurate and reliable information, which is why we continually review and update our content. However, due to the dynamic nature of clinical information and medicine, some information may from time to time become outdated prior to revision.

Published in Cancer

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