Preparing For A Mammography Procedure

Most women are a little hesitant when it comes to getting prepared for their mammography. Knowing the basics up front will help to quell the anxiety that goes along with it.

A mammography is a procedure that allows for imaging of the breast to rule out cancer and/or other abnormalities. X-rays are done of the breasts with low doses of radiation. There may be some discomfort during the procedure, but this is minimal. The breast is compressed by the paddle of the machine and pressure is felt. This needs to be done though so that the inside of the breast can be seen.

The following are the ways to prepare for a mammography before you go:  

  • Schedule the appointment for the week following your menstrual period. This is the optimal time to go. The breasts will be less tender at that time. Make the doctor aware of any problems that are currently being experienced or if pregnancy is a possibility.
  • If you have had a previous mammography somewhere else you should bring that to your appointment with you. It should be available on a CD from the previous facility. The doctor will need to have this, so that he can compare his findings to any previous results.
  • On the day of the appointment it is important that you do not apply any deodorant, lotion or powder anywhere around the breasts or underneath the arms. This can hinder the reading of the results. Before the mammography, wipes will likely be provided to wipe these areas well in preparation for the procedure.
  • If the mammography is unclear or there is suspicion of any abnormalities, they may ask you to wait to have some additional images taken of the breast. Try not to think the worst. They want to be very sure of what they are looking at.
  • When the mammography is completed, asking their opinion or when the results will be given is acceptable. This is a stressful event for most women and they understand that. Most often the results will not be given right away.

A mammography is a very important exam for women to have. Being proactive and having this procedure done can help to determine whether the breasts are healthy. Early detection of abnormalities have saved many women's lives. There are differing opinions when this procedure should be performed, but sometime between the ages of 40-45 are best for most women. If there is a history of breast cancer in the family a women should have a mammography in her early 20s or when recommended by her physician. Talk to your doctor for more information.