Experts recommend that most women begin receiving annual screening mammograms for breast cancer at the age of 40, or earlier for those at high risk for developing the disease. If you’ve never had a mammogram before, you may feel apprehensive about undergoing this procedure. Read on to learn more about what to expect.
What Is a Mammogram?
Simply put, a mammogram is an X-ray image of the breast tissue. It’s used to identify potential areas of concern, such as lumps or abnormal tissue. If a cyst or other mass is identified during the mammogram, your doctor will order follow up tests to determine whether the mass is cancerous.
What Is Involved in a Mammogram?
For this procedure, your breast will be compressed between two surfaces so that the breast tissue is spread out and evenly distributed. During the compression, the technician will take X-ray images of the breast. A thinner layer of breast tissue allows for more clarity in the images. These pictures are then examined by one of our doctors, who will identify any abnormalities and recommend a further course of action if necessary. The test tends to last about 15 or 30 minutes and is done on an outpatient basis, without anesthesia.
Although the compression may cause some discomfort, technicians try to minimize this as much as possible. If you are in pain, let her know so that she can try to reposition you to alleviate the discomfort. The actual compression lasts about 10 to 15 seconds on each breast. You may want to take ibuprofen or another pain reliever prior to your mammogram appointment. Also, try to schedule your test for just after your period, when your breasts tend to be less sensitive.
How Should I Prepare for This Test?
Do not wear any deodorant, lotions, powders, or creams on or around your chest the day of your mammogram. These substances can interfere with the imaging. You should also let the technician know if there’s a chance you may be pregnant. Plan to wear a two-piece outfit, since you’ll have to remove all clothing above the waist during the test.
Are There Risks to This Procedure?
Though you will be exposed to radiation during a mammogram, it’s a very small amount. The benefits of this procedure far outweigh the risks. While a mammogram can be slightly uncomfortable, it is an important part of early detection of breast cancer. This disease is much more treatable when found early.
Schedule Your Appointment
If it’s time for your first mammogram, our team at Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Centerwill work with you to ensure you are comfortable throughout the process. During your consultation, we’ll review the entire process with you and make sure you are prepared for your mammogram. Contact Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Center today to schedule your consultation.