Mammogram FAQ: Important Answers Every Woman Should Know!

It is vital that women ages 40 and over get a mammogram once every year. There are situations where they are needed more often or earlier, though. It is commonly known that the goal of all mammograms is to detect breast cancer as early as possible. But, you may have other questions about these procedures. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about mammograms, including some you may not have even thought of.

Are there different types of mammograms?

The two main types of mammography are digital and film-screen. Though the technique for both is the same, they produce x-ray results in different formats. Film-screen shows results on film that must be printed, while digital mammograms record digital files. When you get a mammogram, it can be for one of two types of appointments.

Screening: This is a routine test that is given to women who have no symptoms, a clear history of mammograms for three years, or who have had no abnormalities in need of a follow-up.

Diagnostic: This type of mammogram is for women who need results at the same appointment. They may have had abnormalities that require follow-up or are tracking active health problems.

3D mammography

One type of digital mammography is known as 3D mammography, or breast tomosynthesis, which is done the same way as other mammograms. However, it produces more detailed results in the form of a composite image of x-rays rather than a flat image. Here are some of the benefits of this type of screening technology.

  1. It provides a clearer view of the breast tissues.
  2. It can make detecting breast cancer early even easier.
  3. It reduces the number of false positives and false negatives.
  4. It can help create a clearer picture over time of a patient’s breast health.

Do I need to prepare for a mammogram?

There are some things you will need to know before you go for your first mammogram. First, wear a two-piece outfit so you can easily undress for the mammogram. Next, avoid wearing deodorants, lotions, or powders before the appointment. You should also leave your jewelry at home since you will need to remove it. Finally, you should be prepared for what the actual screening will feel like.

  • The machine will use two metal plates to compress each breast and take x-ray images.
  • It is likely you will have some discomfort or pain, but it won’t last long.
  • You can time your mammogram to where your breasts aren’t tender, usually around one week after your period.
  • If it hurts too much, you can ask the technician to reposition you.
  • A 3D digital mammography may take between 10 to 20 minutes, a bit longer than traditional film screen options.

Will mammograms give me too much radiation exposure?

All mammograms (and x-rays for that matter) subject you to a small amount of radiation. Special care is taken to ensure the lowest possible amount is used. If you are concerned, speak with your doctor before getting one. They will be able to tell you if the radiation used in taking x-ray images might damage your health.

How will I get my results?

You will be seen by trained radiologists and technologists, not your doctor. Depending on your situation, you could receive results at the same appointment. Be prepared for the results to take up to two weeks if it is your first mammogram. If it takes longer than two weeks, call your doctor or the facility where you got the mammogram.

Where can I get a mammogram?

There are many places you can receive a mammogram, depending on your location and your needs. There are dedicated mammography centers in many cities across the country, as well as general radiology and imaging centers, mobile vehicles, hospitals, and even doctors’ offices with mammography equipment. Here at Women’s Healthcare Associates, we have a mammography department onsite!

How will I know I need a mammogram?

When you turn 40, it is recommended that you get a mammogram once a year, or more often in certain situations. For women who are in their 20’s and 30’s, it is likely only needed every three years. But, if you have a personal or family history of breast cancer and other health issues, talk to your doctor about the frequency you need.

There are some reasons that you should speak with your doctor and may need a mammogram as soon as possible. While pain CAN be an indicator that something is wrong, it may not warrant a mammogram. Make sure to alert your doctor if you experience the following symptoms.

A lump

If you find a lump or lumps that have not been there and addressed before, this could indicate tumors in the breast tissue. A mammogram can help you detect both benign and cancerous tumors. Keep in mind that breast tissue actually extends into the armpits and underarm area.

Abnormalities in the nipples

If you are experiencing any sort of discharge and are not breastfeeding, this can be a sign of breast cancer. Redness, flaking skin, and inverting are other signs that something could be wrong. This is one reason why knowing your breast health is so important.

Swelling or pain

If your breasts swell in localized areas, that can indicate breast cancer. Other abnormalities include dimpling of the skin, redness, irritation, or heat. Pain can be normal if it is due to hormonal fluctuations and usually shows up around one week before your period. If you are concerned about pain, you should still speak with your doctor to determine if a mammogram is necessary.

Size changes

It isn’t abnormal to experience changes in the size of your breasts. Hormonal fluctuations, including those that happen during pregnancy, are known to cause them. But, if a drastic change happens or only one breast changes, that is an indicator that you should speak with your doctor.

Get the best care at Women’s Healthcare Associates

At Women’s Healthcare Associates, our goal is to provide you with one of the best experiences in women’s care in the greater Amarillo area. Our professional Staff offers personal care that focuses on the health and well-being of our patients as individuals.

Our 3D mammography services are located on the second floor of the building in our Ancillary Services Department. We pair state-of-the-art 3D mammography equipment with a team of breast radiologists and technologists so that you benefit from the best breast screening available. When you need to schedule your next breast exam, call us at (806) 355-6330 to make an appointment.

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Women’s Healthcare Associates

1301 S Coulter St # 300
Amarillo, TX 79106

Phone: (806) 355-6330

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© Women'Healthcare Associates 2017 - All rights reserved
Website design and marketing by UCI Digital