A mammogram is an x-ray of your breast and is the best way to find breast cancer when the cancer is too small to be felt by your hands or by your doctor's.
Your doctor makes the referral for you to get a mammogram. He or she will ask the receptionist to schedule the appointment for you and give you the location and phone number of the mammography clinic. If you have had a previous mammogram at a different facility, they will ask you for the name and location of that place so that they can request those x-rays.
Is there much radiation?
The amount of radiation used to take the picture of your breast is very small, about the same amount your dentist uses to check your teeth.
Will the mammogram will be painful?
It may be uncomfortable, but it should not be painful. The mammographers are highly trained and compassionate. They will do everything they can to make sure that you feel relaxed and safe.
What should I do on the day of my mammogram?
Come about 15 minutes early to allow enough time to fill out some paperwork. You will be given a clipboard with several forms to fill out. One form asks you about your health history, and the other asks for your current address and phone number. We need to have correct information on how to contact you with the results.
On the day of your mammogram, do not wear deodorant or powder on your underarms, or lotion or powder on your breasts. These products may cause bright dots that look like something unusual on the x-ray. (If you forget and do wear these products, wet wipes will be available for you to wash them off.)
What happens during a Mammogram?
Your mammogram will be performed by a specially trained, female mammographer. You will be asked to undress from the waist up. The mammographer will place one of your breasts between two smooth, flat, plastic surfaces on the mammogram machine. The surfaces will squeeze your breast flat for just a few seconds. (Compressing the breast this way gives the best image with the lowest dose of radiation.) The same procedure will be repeated for the other breast.
Your mammographer will control the amount of compression so that any discomfort you may feel is not excessive. Note: There may be less discomfort if you schedule your mammogram 1 to 2 weeks after the first day of your last period.
What happens after a Mammogram?
Your mammogram x-rays will be evaluated by certified radiologists (doctors) with special training in reading mammograms. They will study your current mammogram and compare it to any previous mammograms you may have had. Within 48 hours, they will report their findings to the doctor who ordered your mammogram. You can call your doctor for your results after 48 hours, and you will receive a letter which will tell you the results of your mammogram.
What if I get called to come back?
Sometimes, it is necessary to get additional views so that certain areas of your breasts can be evaluated further. Do not be alarmed if you get called to return for additional views: Most of the time everything turns out to be normal.