Mammography is the most important and effective method of detecting breast
cancer at an early stage when it is most treatable. In honor of Breast
Cancer Awareness Month, the American Cancer Society has shared this list
of seven things all women should know about getting a mammogram:
1. What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast that’s used to find breast
changes. X-rays were first used to examine breast tissue nearly a century
ago. Today, the x-ray machines used for mammograms produce lower energy
x-rays and expose the breast to much less radiation compared with those
in the past.
2. Where to get it
Find a center that specializes in mammograms. The US Food and Drug Administration
certifies mammogram facilities that meet high professional standards of
quality and safety. (MCMC is FDA/MQSA-certified.) When you find a facility
you like, stick with it. Having all your mammograms at the same facility
will make it easier for doctors to compare images from one year to the
next. If you’ve had mammograms done at other facilities, have those
images sent to your new facility.
3. When to schedule it
It’s best to schedule your mammogram about a week after your menstrual
period. Your breasts won’t be as tender or swollen, which means
less discomfort during the x-ray.
4. What (and what not) to wear
Wear a 2-piece outfit (top and bottom, not a dress) because you will need
to remove your top and bra. Do not apply deodorant, antiperspirant, powder,
lotion, or ointment on or around your chest on the day of your mammogram.
These products can appear as white spots on the x-ray.
5. What to expect
The entire procedure takes about 20 minutes. The breast is compressed between
two plastic plates for a few seconds while an x-ray is taken. It’s
repositioned (and compressed again) to take another view. This is then
done on the other breast. Flattening the breast can be uncomfortable but
is needed to provide a clearer view. (MCMC uses the latest technology
that was specially designed for women’s comfort.)
6. Getting the results
You should get your results within 10 days. If doctors find something suspicious,
you’ll be contacted to take new pictures or get other tests. But
that doesn’t mean you have cancer. A suspicious finding may just
be dense breast tissue or a cyst. Other times, the image just isn’t
clear and needs to be retaken. If this is your first mammogram, your doctor
may want to look at an area more closely simply because there is no previous
mammogram for comparison.
7. What you pay
Screening mammograms are covered by insurance every 1-2 years for women
over 40. For uninsured or low-income women, free or low-cost mammogram
services are available. Call 541-506-6407 to find out if you qualify for
a free mammogram.
The Breast Center at MCMC is accredited by the National Accreditation Program
for Breast Center (NAPBC) and offers the latest technology in breast cancer
detection. For more information or to schedule a mammogram, call 541.298.4000.
cancer.org/FightBreastCancer for more breast cancer information and support.