The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recommends that women who have no current breast concerns or known risk factors for breast cancer begin annual screening mammograms at age 40. If you’ve never had a mammogram before, it’s understandable that you have questions or may feel nervous. Charlotte Radiology has the answers to all the mammogram questions you may have so you feel more confident heading into your first visit.
Are Mammograms Painful?
If you’ve been postponing a mammogram because it might hurt, you shouldn’t worry. On average, 3D screening mammograms take around 5 to 10 minutes, and the amount of time your breasts are compressed is mere seconds. Most women only experience mild discomfort. Additionally, Charlotte Radiology technologists take care to gently position your breasts to help minimize any discomfort.
Why Do I Have to Remove My Shirt for a Mammogram?
Unlike some types of X-rays that can be performed with your clothing on, getting a mammogram means going (briefly) topless. Since each breast must be placed between two plates, it is not possible to leave your shirt or bra on during a mammogram. Before your mammogram, you will change into a medical gown, leaving on your pants and shoes. During the mammogram, the female radiology technician will open the gown to expose one breast at a time and place it gently on the mammogram plates. The rest of your body will remain covered by the gown.
Take the Quiz: Put Your Mammogram Knowledge to the Test
Why Can’t I Wear Deodorant or Lotion During a Mammogram?
You should skip wearing deodorant or any lotion on the day of your mammogram if possible. Particles of these substances can sometimes migrate to your breasts and show up on mammograms looking like breast calcifications, which can require additional imaging. This means you could undergo unnecessary procedures, become stressed or be left with questions about your mammogram.
If you mistakenly have deodorant or lotion on for your mammogram, there are wipes provided in the dressing room to remove it before you go in for your imaging. Women often pack deodorant in their handbags to put on after the exam is completed.
How Does a Mammogram Work with Large Breasts?
While bra shopping may be a hassle, getting a mammogram is easy, no matter the size of your breasts. The X-ray machine is designed to accommodate breasts well above a D cup. However, some women with larger breasts may need more than the standard two images per breast to ensure full coverage. Charlotte Radiology technologists take great care to gently position your breasts to help minimize any discomfort.
How Does a Mammogram Work with Small Breasts?
There’s a myth that women with small breasts don’t get breast cancer. That is absolutely not true. Breast cancer affects women of all breast sizes, shapes and densities. In fact, smaller breasts can have more dense tissue, which can be a risk factor for breast cancer, making it even more important to get screened every year.
Even if you think your breasts are too small to fit on the mammography paddle, you really do have enough breast tissue for a mammogram. As is the case for larger breasts, Charlotte Radiology technologists position your breasts to help maximize imaging of your breast tissue and, again, minimize any discomfort.
Read More: How to Prepare for an Annual Screening Mammogram
Can I Have a Mammogram If I’m on My Period?
Radiology experts agree: If possible, you should schedule your mammogram for the first two weeks after your period ends. Hormonal changes before and during your period can cause your breasts to swell, which could affect imaging. Also, your breasts are likely to be more tender during that time, which can make the compression slightly more uncomfortable.
Does Breastfeeding Affect My Mammogram?
If you need a mammogram due to your age or a doctor’s recommendation, don’t put it off because you’re breastfeeding. It is safe to have a mammogram while pregnant or breastfeeding, although you should make sure the technologist knows in advance. You should also nurse or pump right before your mammogram for better results and minimal discomfort.
Can I Get a Mammogram If I Have Breast Implants?
Unless you had a double mastectomy and your doctor has given you the all-clear to skip mammograms, you should have an annual screening mammogram if you have breast implants. Charlotte Radiology technologists are experienced in screening women with implants. New patients (or longtime patients with new implants) should make sure to tell the breast center scheduling team when making an appointment so they can add this information to the patient record. Women with implants may need additional images on each breast for the best mammogram results.
Should I Be Afraid If I Get Called Back for More Imaging After My Screening?
It’s normal to feel nervous before a mammogram, because what if this year’s screening brings bad news or creates more questions than answers? But detecting breast cancer early is why screening mammograms are so important You may also be concerned if your mammogram results require you to come back to the office for additional imaging, often called a “recall.”
Getting called back for more imaging does not automatically mean you have breast cancer. It means the radiologist saw something on your screening results that they want to investigate further. According to the American Cancer Society, less than 10% of women will be called back for diagnostic imaging and fewer than 1% will be found to have breast cancer. Most women who are recalled are cleared to return back to annual screening mammograms.
Can I Still Have a Mammogram If I Have a Pacemaker?
If you have a pacemaker, there’s no need to stop your annual mammograms. You should check with your doctor if you’ve just had one implanted, as they might recommend you wait up to six months to allow for recovery. And you should let your Charlotte Radiology team know about your pacemaker ahead of time and be sure to remind the technologist who is performing your imaging exam so she can best position your breasts and ensure your comfort. The X-ray machine will not damage the device.