Tips for Preparing
for your Mammogram
Most people like to be prepared for a test -- especially one they've never
taken before. You can't really study for your first mammogram but you can still be prepared. This basic information
from the American Cancer Society (ACS) can help you know
what to expect during a mammogram and how best to get
ready for one.
Q: What is a mammogram?
A: A mammogram
is an x-ray picture of the breast. Mammograms can often
find cancer when it is small, improving your treatment
options and chances of surviving the disease. Currently,
the ACS recommends a yearly screening mammogram for all
women, starting at age 40 (or earlier if you have a family
history of breast cancer). The cost of a mammogram, or
at least a portion of it, is covered by Medicare, Medicaid
and most private health plans.
Q: What happens during a mammogram?
A: A technologist will position
your breasts for a mammogram. Most technologists are women.
Only you and the technologist will be in the room during
the procedure. To get a clear image, the techologist positions
your breastes, one at a time, between two plates attached
to the x-ray machine. The machine compresses our breast
for a few seconds. The entire procedure takes about 20
minutes. You may feel discomfort but it shouldn't hurt.
Q: When is the best time to have a mammogram?
A: A mammogram can be uncomfortable if your breasts are sensitive. Try to schedule your mammogram the week after your
menstrual period, when breasts are generally less tender.
Q: How should I prepare?
A: You will
need to undress above the waist and wear a gown that opens
in the front. Wear a shirt that you can remove easily.
Also, avoid wearing deodorant, talcum powder, perfume
or body lotion. They can interfere with the test results.
Tell the technologist about any breast problems that you're
having. Be prepared to answer questions about any
personal or family history of breast cancer.