What Is A Mammogram?
A mammogram is a low-dose exam of the breast to look for changes that are not normal. The results are recorded on x-ray film or directly into a computer for a doctor called a radiologist to examine. A mammogram allows the doctor to have a closer look for changes in breast tissue that cannot be felt during a breast exam. It is used for women who have no breast complaints and for women who have breast symptoms, such as a change in the shape or size of a breast, a lump, nipple discharge, or pain. Breast changes occur in almost all women. In fact, most of these changes are not cancer and are called "benign", but only a doctor can know for sure. Breast changes can also happen monthly, due to your menstrual period.
When Should I Get A Mammogram?
The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends Women ages 50 to 74 years of age should get a mammogram every 2 years. You should get a baseline 35 - 40 years old. If you have a history of breast cancer in your family you should consult with your doctor if earlier screening is suggested. Some of the more aggressive cancers occur in younger women, so an early baseline can help towards early detection and prevention.
How Do I Prepare For My First Mammogram?
If you haven't started your menopause, schedule your mammogram for the week after your menstrual period. Your breast usually are less tender then. Schedule your appointment early in the day since you can't wear deodorant, powder, lotion or ointments around the chest area. If you apply any of these items, they may look like a breast problem on the x-ray. Wear a two piece outfit so you only have to remove your top. The person doing you mammogram will give you a gown to wear. Bring the name, address and phone number of the doctor who ordered the mammogram. Afterwards, the facility will send your doctor the report directly.
How Painful Is A Mammogram?
Every woman experiences mammograms differently. Some women may fell pain during the procedure, and others may not feel any pain or discomfort at all. Most women feel some discomfort during the actual x-ray process, but it is not unbearable. The pressure against your breast from the testing equipment can cause brief pain for a few seconds. If you have scars near the breast tissue, a strip with markers will be placed on the top of your breast to mark the area so that the doctor reviewing the films will be able to know that its scar tissue and read the report properly. Try taking a pain reliever an hour prior to your appointment or take slow deep breaths while focusing on your favorite song or place.
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