Mammography

Mammography is an X-ray of the breasts to look for changes that are not normal. The X-ray image is called a mammogram. This procedure can screen for breast cancer, can detect cancer early, and can diagnose cancer.

LET YOUR CAREGIVER KNOW ABOUT:

  • Breast implants.

  • Previous breast disease, biopsy, or surgery.

  • If you are breastfeeding.

  • Medicines taken, including vitamins, herbs, eyedrops, over-the-counter medicines, and creams.

  • Use of steroids (by mouth or creams).

  • Possibility of pregnancy, if this applies.

RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS

  • Exposure to radiation, but at very low levels.

  • The results may be misinterpreted.

  • The results may not be accurate.

  • Mammography may lead to further tests.

  • Mammography may not catch certain cancers.

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

  • Schedule your test about 7 days after your menstrual period. This is when your breasts are the least tender and have signs of hormone changes.

  • If you have had a mammography done at a different facility in the past, get the mammogram X-rays or have them sent to your current exam facility in order to compare them.

  • Wash your breasts and under your arms the day of the test.

  • Do not wear deodorants, perfumes, or powders anywhere on your body.

  • Wear clothes that you can change in and out of easily.

PROCEDURE

Relax as much as possible during the test. Any discomfort during the test will be very brief. The test should take less than 30 minutes. The following will happen:

  • You will undress from the waist up and put on a gown.

  • You will stand in front of the X-ray machine.

  • Each breast will be placed between 2 plastic or glass plates. The plates will compress your breast for a few seconds.

  • X-rays will be taken from different angles of the breast.

AFTER THE PROCEDURE

  • The mammogram will be examined.

  • Depending on the quality of the images, you may need to repeat certain parts of the test.

  • Ask when your test results will be ready. Make sure you get your test results.

  • You may resume normal activities.