FAQs About Mammograms
Mammography is a technique by which x-rays are used to detect and diagnose tumours in the breasts.
The test is called a mammogram and is usually advised for women around 40+ years of age.
Women in a younger age group than that can talk to a doctor and find out when/ if they need to get a mammogram.
Mammograms are very common and are one of the best ways to catch breast cancer early, leading to a hopeful prognosis.
Here are some frequently asked questions about this routine exam:
- How is it done?
A mammogram is conducted via a low dose x-ray, thus keeping the risks of radiation exposure low. You put on a hospital gown, stand in front of an x-ray machine, and a technician places your breast between two plates, which then flatten the breast with gentle compression to generate the clearest possible image of the tissue. You may find this pressure uncomfortable, but it lasts only for a few seconds. The same process is followed for each breast.
- Are there any precautions I need to take?
The rules are simple – don’t use body lotion, deodorant, perfume or powder of any sort on the day of your mammogram. Make sure you are bathed and clean, but don’t use the aforementioned after-bath products. They can interfere with the test.
- Are mammograms painful?
In simple terms, not really. Some women find it painful, most just find it annoying. One step that you can take to minimize your discomfort is to schedule your mammogram keeping your menstrual cycle in mind. Plenty of women experience tenderness or soreness of the breasts during menstruation. If you’re pre-menopausal, wait for about 1 week after your period has ended, to get a mammogram.
You can also ask the technician to reposition you if you’re particularly uncomfortable.
If your mammogram picks up on something, there may be further testing required, to fully identify and/ or diagnose the issue. Mammograms are not always perfect, but they are still the best way to detect an abnormality in the breasts, that cannot be seen or felt.