After age 40, women need to start thinking about adding a mammogram to their annual preventive screening routine. This simple screening test is the best way to find breast cancer during the early stages, when it’s easier to treat.
You may feel a little apprehensive about scheduling your mammogram, and you’re not alone. No doubt you’ve heard your mother, sister, or friends complain about the discomforts of the procedure, from the coldness of the machine to the pressure of the plates as they flatten your breast tissue.
At Cary OB/GYN, we understand your concerns. We perform 3D mammography screenings at the office because with our advanced screening tool, we help keep discomfort to a minimum. In this blog, we share some of the things you can do to get ready for this important procedure.
About the mammogram
When it comes to health screenings, it’s always important to know why you need them and how they work. Mammograms are a screening tool for breast cancer, which is one of the most common types of cancer in women in the United States. Second most common, in fact.
During the screening, we use a special X-ray machine that takes images of the tissue in your breast. These images look for abnormal tissue that may be early signs of breast cancer. Finding and treating breast cancer early increases your chances of a full recovery.
Though there are differing opinions about when women should start mammogram screenings for breast cancer, we recommend you start at age 40 and repeat the test every year. Once you reach age 50, we may only need to repeat your mammogram every two years.
Scheduling your mammogram
When you schedule your mammogram is an important part of the preparation process. Though our 3D mammography test keeps discomfort to a minimum, we want to make sure you feel as comfortable as possible. We also want to get the best images.
Your breasts are most tender and swollen the week before and during your period. When making your mammogram appointment, it’s best to avoid scheduling your screening during these two weeks.
Getting ready for your mammogram
On the day of your mammogram, we request that you shower in the morning. But we need you to avoid the use of:
- Baby powder
- Lotions and creams
These products contain ingredients that may show up as white spots on your images and interfere with your results. You can apply these products immediately after your test.
During your mammogram, we have you remove your top and bra and provide you with an exam gown to wear to the testing area. Knowing this, you may want to wear a two-piece outfit (pants or skirt with a shirt).
We also ask you to remove your jewelry. For safe-keeping, we recommend you leave your jewelry at home.
Other than that, there’s nothing else you need to do to get ready for your mammogram. You can eat, drink, and take your medications or supplements per your usual routine.
If you’re sensitive to pain, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever prior to your test to prevent discomfort.
What to expect during your mammogram
Once you’ve changed into your exam gown, our mammogram technician brings you to the testing area. You stand in front of the machine, and the technician places one of your breasts on the platform and adjusts the height for comfort. They also help you position your head and body to minimize interference with the images.
The technician then lowers the upper plate, which presses your breast to make it as flat as possible and then takes the necessary pictures. The technician then repeats this process on your other breast.
Your mammogram should take no more than 10 minutes, and you can go back to your normal routine afterward.
Stop putting off your mammogram appointment. Call the Cary OB/GYN office nearest you today to schedule your screening.