There can be a lot of confusion around getting a mammogram. Here’s a step-by-step of the process you need to know before you get a mammogram.
It is important to get routine checkups and mammograms
A mammogram is an X-ray image of our breast. Mammograms help us identify cancer or other abnormalities in the breasts. Ideally, a person should get a mammogram every few years or in case they notice any abnormality in the breast. However, for people over the age of 50, the risks for cancer are heightened. They should seek mammograms at least once every two years.
If you are someone who is yet to get a mammogram, here is what you should expect during a mammogram.
How is a mammogram performed?
- You are required to stand in front of the X-ray machine designed specially to capture a mammogram.
- The machine expert then places your breasts on a plastic plate that connects to the machine
- Another plate is placed above the breasts above
- This compression may cause some pressure and discomfort to the breast
- Once the X-ray has taken place, the machine expert will study the X-ray images to see whether or not they have been captured correctly
- Please note that the machine expert (technologist) cannot give you the results and only responsible for helping you take the test and check if the results are readable
What things should I keep in mind?
- Avoid getting a mammogram done near or during your menstrual cycle as it makes your breasts tender and can make the process more painful and uncomfortable.
- The test requires you to undress your upper body and the X-ray can only be taken on bare breasts. Hence, you are advised to dress accordingly.
- Avoid using products such as perfumes, deodorants, makeup, etc. on the skin around or on your breast.
- If you have been vaccinated for covid-19 recently, please check with your doctor if it is ideal for you to get a mammogram.
Are mammograms uncomfortable?
Mammograms can be slightly painful and uncomfortable for most women. As you are compressing them to record a correct X-ray, it might cause some pressure and discomfort. However, it is most times completely bearable. Furthermore, the actual pressing during the mammogram only lasts a few seconds and hence the pain is over once you are done with the test. Being on your periods can make your breasts feel more sensitive and can consider having a mammogram scheduled for some other time.
What are the post-test measures?
Once the test is taken, the radiologist studies the X-ray to scan for any abnormalities. Once that is done, they then inform your doctor of the results. Receiving a proper mammogram result can take a few weeks. However, in case it has been more than a month, feel free to contact your doctor enquiring about the update.
What happens after you receive a mammogram?
The results convey if the health of your breasts are normal or if there are any abnormalities detected. In case the test indicates your health to be normal, there are no follow-ups needed. Although, you are still encouraged to get tests done once every year or two, or in case you notice any abnormality.
However, if the tests show some abnormality, the doctor might advise you to get more tests done. It is important to understand not all abnormalities in the breast are cancerous. Taking further tests as advised by your doctor can better help navigate the abnormality and what can be done moving forward.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.
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