Mind Your Health With 10 Tips on How to Prepare for a Mammogram

... Credit :
Jane Taylor in Health & Wealth

Last updated: 10 January 2020, 03:37 GMT

When it comes to taking care of your body, there are certain things you need to do. This includes getting regular checkups for your overall health and going in for a mammogram when necessary.

This may not be the most exciting or fun thing to do, but it can be important when it comes to detecting cancer or other issues. If you are getting ready for this process, you might be asking how to prepare for a mammogram.

What Is a Mammogram?

Breast cancer is a serious health concern. It mainly impacts women, but men can also be affected. When it comes to detecting breast cancer, a mammogram is currently the best method available for finding this disease. In essence, a mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. It can help doctors detect cancer up to 3 years before you feel it as a lump in your body.

How Are Mammograms Done?

Mammograms are done by a special x-ray machine that was constructed just for this process. You will stand in front of the machine and a technologist will place your breast on a clear plastic plate. Another plate will then come down from above and flatten your breast. You will then have to hold still while the machine takes the x-ray pictures of your breast.

There are four pictures that are taken. One for the front of your breast and then one for your side. These will be taken for both of your breasts. Once the process has been completed, you will then wait as the technologist checks to make sure the pictures look good. They cannot tell you what the x-rays say, however. You will have to get the results from your doctor or a radiologist.

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Why Are Mammograms So Important?

At the moment, mammograms are the best way for doctors to detect breast cancer in women. If you go in for regular appointments, it's possible to catch this disease early and get it treated before it becomes a deadly issue.

Who Needs to Get a Mammogram?

At some point in time, every woman will need to have a mammogram conducted. However, there are no guidelines or rules about what age this should begin. Different factors will play a role when determining how early and how often you need to have a mammogram conducted, including your risk factors for cancer and personal preference on how many times you want to go in.

Talking to your doctor is the best way to determine when you should have a mammogram conducted. However, on average, mammograms are recommended for women when they turn 40, and then they should have them every one or two years. The American Cancer Society says that women who have an average risk of developing breast cancer should have a mammogram done yearly when they turn 45 up until they turn 54. After that, they can then have the test done every 2 years.

If you are a woman with a high risk of breast cancer, including having a family history of cancer, it may be beneficial to start your screening before the age of 40. Again, talking about this with your doctor will let you know the best time to have this test and how often it needs to be conducted. Once you have a plan in place, you can then figure out how to prepare for a mammogram.

What Do Mammograms Feel Like?

For most women, mammograms are incredibly uncomfortable. Some even find it painful. When you're considering how to prepare for a mammogram and concerned that it will hurt, keep in mind that many different factors come into play when it comes to how much discomfort you'll feel. These include how skilled the technologist is, how large your breasts are, and how much they need to be pressed.

How Long Does It Take to Get the Results?

After the x-rays have been taken of your breasts, the pictures are then sent to a radiologist, who will examine them to determine if there are any indicators of cancer. You may speak directly to the radiologist about your results, or you may be in contact with your family doctor or your gynecologist. On average, it can take a few weeks to get your results. They may contact you sooner if there is a cause for concern. If you haven't heard anything in 30 days, you'll want to call and find out what's going on.

Your Mammogram Results

When you are thinking about how to prepare for a mammogram and wondering about your results, if they come back normal, you can continue to get mammograms in the recommended time intervals. If they come back abnormal, there may be a reason to worry, but they're also may not be.

Just because your mammogram comes back abnormal, that doesn't necessarily mean that you have cancer. However, to find out for sure, you will more than likely have to have more tests and may even be referred to a breast specialist or surgeon. You may not require surgery, but these doctors have more knowledge and training when it comes to breast issues. After they conduct more tests and determine a diagnosis, they'll be able to find the best treatment option for your condition.

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10 Tips on How to Prepare for a Mammogram

If you have an appointment coming up and you are wondering how to prepare for a mammogram, check out the 10 tips below.

1. Choose the Right Facility

If you have a choice in the facility that will be conducting the mammogram, pick a place that does these tests day in and day out. They will have the skills and expertise to get you through the process quickly with as little discomfort as possible.

2. Schedule an Appointment When Your Breasts Aren't Tender

Most women experience breast tenderness right before and during their period. Your breasts might also be swollen during this time. Thus, it's a good idea to schedule your appointment well before or after your period to reduce the amount of discomfort you feel during the mammogram.

3. Don't Wear Deodorant or Antiperspirant on the Day of Your Appointment

Deodorant and antiperspirant can have an impact on the mammogram images, especially if they have aluminum in them. Thus, it's advised that you don't wear these items on the day of your appointment. If you happen to forget, don't fret, but let the technologist know. You will need to wash this off before you have your test done.

4. Wear Something Comfortable and Easy to Get Out Of

When you have your mammogram done, you will be asked to strip to your waist. Many women find that it is easier to wear a shirt and pants or a skirt and remove their top for their mammograms. You will have to remove your bra, so you'll want to consider wearing something that is easy to get on and off.

5. Tell the Technologist If You Are in Pain

Your breast will be pressed flat to get a picture of your breast. The entire mammogram process takes about 20 minutes, but your breasts are only flattened for a short amount of time. However, if the discomfort is unbearable or tough to deal with, let the technologist know. They may be able to help reduce your pain to get you through the process.

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6. Take Steps to Reduce the Pain or Discomfort

Since you know ahead of time that you may be in pain or discomfort, take some steps to reduce this discomfort. Consider taking some ibuprofen or Tylenol before your appointment to get ahead of any hurt you might experience.

7. Bring Prior Images If You Have Them

If you have had a mammogram previously, make sure to bring the images with you. The best way for the radiologist to tell if there have been any changes is to compare the images from the last time to the new appointment. If you don't have any previous images, that's okay. You won't have to worry about bringing them along.

8. Talk to Your Doctor or the Radiologist

When you are wondering how to prepare for a mammogram, it is helpful to talk to your doctor or radiologist about any changes in your medical history or family history of breast cancer. This will help them determine your risk factor and keep their eyes open for any indicators that something has changed or to look for early signs of cancer.

9. Ask Questions

If you have questions about the procedure or how long it takes to get results, ask. The more information you have, the more comfortable you will be with the process. Don't be afraid to ask the technologist about what will happen during the mammogram, as this can also reduce your stress about the process.

10. Take Deep Breaths

When you are finding out how to prepare for a mammogram, don't forget to take some deep breaths and relax. The process might be uncomfortable, but it is necessary to detect any issues or cancer in the breast. If you stay as calm as possible, this will make the procedure go faster so you can get on with your day.

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For most women, having a mammogram isn't their idea of fun. It can be painful and uncomfortable. However, this discomfort will only last for a short amount of time, and the results from the process can detect cancer at an early stage. Getting mammograms done on a regular basis is a good way to keep your body healthy and keep track of any changes that might occur.

There are several different ways for how to prepare for a mammogram. The most important thing is that you are getting this test done and doing what is best for your body.


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