You probably didn’t think you could have an impact on the accuracy of your mammogram, but you do. While the technologist does a majority of the work, you can do several things to help ensure your mammogram is done with precision and produces quality results.
Here are ways to get an accurate mammogram that will make the process as smooth as possible.
How to Prepare
To make things easier for yourself, wear a shirt and pants rather than a dress, as you will need to undress from the waist up during the exam. Do not put on deodorant, antiperspirant or perfume before your mammogram. These items can show up as white spots on the X-ray, which may cause unnecessary concern.
Schedule your mammogram around your period. According to the American Cancer Society, your breasts can become tender or swollen during your menstrual cycle, which can cause additional pain or discomfort and swelling. This can make it more difficult to clearly view the breast tissue. Breastfeeding or pregnancy also can cause changes in breast tissue and sensitivity.
During the Exam
Cooperate with your technologist when he or she is positioning you with the machine. While it may be uncomfortable (and embarrassing), the more you follow their instruction, the sooner it will be over. Don’t forget to discuss with them any changes in your breasts, such as surgeries or breast cancer family history.
While experiencing breast compression, you will feel discomfort, but let the technologist know if you are feeling severe pain. This could indicate improper positioning, or a serious issue with your breast.
Hold your breath and do not move while the X-rays are being taken. Movement will disrupt the process and distort the images, and your results. Breast calcifications cannot be detected in a blurred image, but can be potentially dangerous.
If possible, try to go to the same place for a mammogram each time so your doctor can easily compare mammogram results. If this isn’t possible, make sure to bring your previous results with you and provide them to your doctor. Include with your results the dates, locations and doctors of previous mammograms, biopsies and any other breast procedures you’ve had. Knowing your breast history can help your doctor determine a diagnosis.
The procedure takes roughly 20 minutes from start to finish, and the actual breast compression lasts only a few seconds for each side. Healthy breast tissue flattens easily when compressed, but cancer and other abnormalities do not flatten and actually become more apparent. Although having your breast compressed is uncomfortable, mammograms are the most accurate way to detect breast cancer, and early detection is the key to surviving breast cancer. Be sure to ask your doctor how soon you’ll get your results, and whether they’ll be provided through the mail or by phone.
One of the most innovative technologies to help women is the development of 3D mammography. Fisher-Titus now offers the procedure, so call 419-660-2646 to schedule your appointment for a 3D mammogram today. To learn the benefits of 3D mammography, and the key differences between it and traditional mammography, get our guide, The Benefits of 3D Mammography.