How To Prepare
If you have previously had a mammogram
done at another clinic, have the results sent or bring them with you to your
Tell your doctor if you:
- Are or might be pregnant. A mammogram is an
X-ray test with exposure to low-dose radiation and is not done for routine
screening during pregnancy.
- Are breast-feeding. A mammogram may not
provide clear results in breasts that contain milk.
- Have breast
implants. Breast implants require a modified mammogram method.
previously had a breast biopsy. Knowing the location of scar tissue will help
radiologist read your mammogram accurately.
On the day of the mammogram, do not use any deodorant,
perfume, powders, or ointments on your breasts. The residue left on your skin
by these substances may interfere with the X-rays.
If you are
still having menstrual periods, you may want to have your mammogram done within
2 weeks after your menstrual period ends. The procedure will be more
comfortable, especially if your breasts become tender before your period
How It Is Done
A mammogram is done by a radiology
technologist or mammogram technologist. The X-ray pictures (mammograms) are
interpreted by a doctor who specializes in evaluating X-rays
You will need to remove any jewelry that might
interfere with the X-ray picture. You will need to take off your clothes above
the waist, and you will be given a cloth or paper gown to use during the test.
If you are concerned about an area of your breast, show the technologist so
that the area can be noted.
You usually stand during a mammogram. One at a time, your breasts will be placed on a flat
plate that contains the X-ray film. Another plate is then pressed firmly
against your breast to help flatten out the breast tissue. Very firm
compression is needed to obtain high-quality pictures. You may be asked to lift
your arm. For a few
seconds while the X-ray picture is being taken, you will need to hold your
breath. Usually at least two pictures are taken of each breast: one from the
top and one from the side.
You may be in the mammogram clinic for
up to an hour. The mammogram itself takes about 10 to 15 minutes. You will be
asked to wait (usually about 5 minutes) until the X-rays are developed, in case
repeat pictures need to be taken. In some clinics and hospitals, X-ray pictures
can be viewed immediately on a computer screen (digitally).