Skip to content

Breast Cancer Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

Breast Cancer and Mammograms

(continued)

What Happens During a Mammogram? continued...

You will be asked to stand in front of an X-ray machine. The mammography technologist will place your breast between two radiographic breast supports. The supports will be pressed together, gently flattening the breast. Compression is necessary to obtain the clearest possible picture with the least amount of radiation. You may feel some discomfort or slight pain from this pressure, but it will only last for a few seconds while the X-ray is being taken. Your cooperation for these few seconds is important to get a clear picture. If you feel that the pressure on your breast is too great, tell the technologist performing the exam. To minimize discomfort during compression, you may want to consider scheduling your appointment seven to 10 days after the start of your period, when your breast are least likely to be tender.

The breast will be imaged in several positions to enable the radiologist to see all breast tissue adequately. For a routine breast screening, two pictures are taken of each breast. This exam takes about 20 minutes. Many centers also do 3-D mammography.  This is similar to regular mammograms but many more pictures of the breast are taken at various angles to produce a 3-D picture for the radiologist to check.

After examining the digital images, the radiologist may ask the technologist to obtain additional images or a breast ultrasound for a more precise diagnosis. This is a routine measure.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
 
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
 
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
VIDEO
Resolved To Quit Smoking
SLIDESHOW
 
Woman getting mammogram
Article
Screening Tests for Women
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
serious woman
Article
 
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 

WebMD Special Sections