Women often find themselves wondering what happens during a mammogram and why they should get such an invasive test. Beverly Copelan, manager at Atlanta’s Breast Health Center, decided to answer those questions and more. With her help, women will have a clearer picture of how the exam is performed and why it is a crucial test at a certain age.
What Is a Mammogram?
A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. It is performed with specialized equipment that holds the breast in place while the picture is taken.
While some women think that the mammogram is a scary exam, there is no need to fear it as the doctor is there throughout the entire process.
Who Should Get a Mammogram?
According to experts, women who do not have breast cancer incidents in their family should get a mammogram in their forties. Those with close relatives that suffered from the disorder are recommended to do so ten years before the age at which the relative was diagnosed.
How Long Does the Test Last and How Should One Prepare for It?
The test usually lasts for 30 minutes, including registration. All patients must have their insurance card with them.
It is easier to get ready for the test if you are wearing a top and pants because you must only undress from the waist up. Also, doctors advise you to avoid wearing perfume, deodorant, powder, or lotion as all might cause the appearance of white spots on the x-rays.
What Happens During a Mammogram?
When you arrive at your doctor’s office, a technician will great you and explain the basics of the test. The technician will then provide you with a medical gown and instruct you to remove all clothing from the waist up.
When you finally get into the screening room, the technician will take three x-rays of each breast. The equipment will apply pressure on the breast so that the x-rays will be able to penetrate the breast tissue.
Don’t worry about the radiation. It is too low to increase breast cancer risk.
Will It Be Painful?
Since the breast is compressed, there is some level of discomfort involved. However, the pain only lasts for a few seconds. The doctor can prescribe pain medication to those who have a low pain tolerance.
Results usually take a few days to arrive. In some cases, doctors request a second set of images. It shouldn’t be a reason to get alarmed as most of the times they only need to compare the results.
Image source: Wikipedia