Tips for having a Mammogram

Mammogram
  • If it is not posted in a place you can see it near the receptionist’s desk, ask to see the FDA certificate that is issued to all facilities that offer mammography. The FDA requires all facilities to meet high professional standards of safety and quality in order to be a provider of mammography services. A facility may not provide mammography without certification.
  • Use a facility that either specializes in mammography or does many mammograms a day.
  • If you are satisfied that the facility is of high quality, continue to go there on a regular basis so that your mammograms can be compared from year to year.
  • If you are going to a facility for the first time, bring a list of the places, dates of mammograms, biopsies, or other breast treatments you have had before.
  • If you have had mammograms at another facility, you should make every attempt to get those mammograms to bring with you to the new facility (or have them sent there) so that they can be compared to the new ones.
  • Try to schedule your mammogram at a time of the month when your breasts are not tender or swollen to help reduce discomfort and assure a good picture. Try to avoid the week right before your period.
  • On the day of the exam, don’t wear deodorant or antiperspirant. Some of these contain substances that can interfere with the reading of the mammogram by appearing on the x-ray film as white spots.
  • You may find it easier to wear a skirt or pants, so that you’ll only need to remove your blouse for the exam.
  • Always describe any breast symptoms or problems that you are having to the technologist who is doing the mammogram. Be prepared to describe any medical history that could affect your breast cancer risk − such as surgery, hormone use, or family or personal history of breast cancer. Also discuss any new findings or problems in your breasts with your doctor or nurse before having a mammogram.
  • If you do not hear from your doctor within 10 days, do not assume that your mammogram result was normal. Call your doctor or the facility.

What to expect when you get a screening Mammogram

  • To have a mammogram you must undress above the waist. The facility will give you a wrap to wear.
  • A technologist will be there to position your breasts for the mammogram. Most technologists are women. You and the technologist are the only ones in the room during the mammogram.
  • To get a high-quality mammogram picture, it is necessary to flatten the breast slightly. The technologist places the breast on the mammogram machine’s lower plate, which is made of metal and has a drawer to hold the x-ray film or the camera to produce a digital image. The upper plate, made of plastic, is lowered to compress the breast for a few seconds while the picture is taken.
  • The whole procedure takes about 20 minutes. The actual breast compression only lasts a few seconds.
  • You may feel some discomfort when your breasts are compressed, and for some women compression can be painful. Try not to schedule a mammogram when your breasts are likely to be tender, as they may be just before or during your period.
  • All mammogram facilities are now required to send your results to you within 30 days. Generally, you will be contacted within 5 working days if there is a problem with the mammogram.
  • Being called back for more testing does not mean that you have cancer. In fact, less than 10% of women who are called back for more tests are found to have breast cancer. Being called back occurs fairly often, and it usually just means an additional image or an ultrasound needs to be done to look at an area more clearly. This is more common for first mammograms (or when there is no previous mammogram to look at) and in mammograms done in women before menopause. It may be slightly less common for digital mammograms.
  • If you are a woman 40 or over, you should get a mammogram every year. You can schedule the next one while you’re there at the facility. Or, you can ask for a reminder to schedule it as the date gets closer.

Types of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer occurs when breast cells divide and grow without control, sometimes invading surrounding tissue.

Breast cancer can be classified generally as follows:
  • Non-Invasive Breast Cancer
  • Invasive Cancer
  • Metastatic Breast Cancer

Treatment

Everyone's treatment is different. To help doctors decide on the best treatment, the stage of the cancer needs to be determined.

  • Surgery
  • Lumpectomy
  • Mastectomy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation Therapy or Radiotherapy
  • Hormonal Therapy

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