Did you find your reason for scheduling your annual mammogram? Great! Annual screening mammograms are recommended for women starting at age 40 with the goal of detecting signs of breast cancer in the earliest stages when it can be more effectively treated. Your breasts change over time, and annual screenings help identify even the smallest changes in your breast health. Starting screenings at 40 helps provide a baseline to compare these changes year over year and to provide you with peace of mind or a path forward should a concern be found.
Now that you have made your appointment, here’s how to prepare and what you should expect before, during and after your screening.
Preparing for Your Visit
Fortunately, there’s not much preparation to do before an annual screening mammogram. Just be sure to wear a two-piece outfit and do not put on deodorant, lotion, or perfume. Feel free to eat or drink before your appointment.
At your appointment, you will be escorted to a dressing room after checking in. There you will change into a top gown that will be provided. Then you will be escorted to a private imaging room, where your female technologist will perform your screening mammogram and talk you through each step of the process.
During and After Screening
During your screening mammogram, paddles compress your breasts one at a time. The machine takes multiple 3D images in a matter of seconds, producing multiple ‘layers’ of images of your breast tissue.
The technologist will position you in a way to allow for maximum comfort and the clearest images, and the entire procedure takes less than 10 minutes.
Your high-quality mammogram images are read by a board-certified subspecialized radiologist. Your results will be interpreted within three business days and then sent directly to you and your primary care provider. You will be contacted if there is any additional follow up or diagnostic imaging required pending your mammogram results. Results will also be posted to your CR Secure Access Patient Portal.
If your results are clear and no concerns are found, we will see you in 12 months for your next annual screening.
The Importance of Annual Screening Mammograms
Screening mammograms are an essential well visit for all women 40+, even if they do not have a family history or present any outward symptoms of breast cancer. A mammogram can detect the earliest signs of cancer, up to two years before a lump can be seen or felt by a patient or physician.
Discovering cancer sooner improves the chances of successful treatment. In fact, women diagnosed with breast cancer in the earliest stages (stage 0 or stage 1) have a nearly 100% 5-year survival rate. Annual screening beginning at age 40 (rather than beginning screening every other year at 50 years old) saves approximately 6,500 women’s lives in the U.S. per year.
Charlotte Radiology’s online self-scheduler makes it easy to schedule an appointment at any of our 16 breast center locations. You can even schedule next year’s appointment now, and we’ll send you a reminder as it gets closer. Thanks for making your breast health a priority!