Whether it’s your first mammogram ever, or you are simply about to visit your doctor for your annual appointment, you may find that you are bit nervous. Believe us, you are not on your own. Having their breasts examined for signs of abnormalities is stressful for every woman. In fact, while all women who are age 40 and older are told to have their breasts checked annually, only about 65 percent of them do. We think this can largely be attributed to the fear and discomfort that are associated with the exam. If you want to make sure that you are prepared for your next mammogram, we would suggest that you read over the following points.
Even though it is okay that you’re allowed to be nervous about your mammogram, you still need to go.
Believe us, even as medical professionals, we understand that there is anxiety associated with mammograms before, during, and after. However, simply being willing to acknowledge that your anxiety is warranted can be extremely helpful. Once you come to terms with your anxiety, begin to think about why you have the exam in the first place. If you are doing it annually, like you are recommended, this test is meant to protect you. When you look at it this way, NOT going to get your mammogram is actually a much more stress-inducing alternative.
Bring along your medical history.
If you are visiting a radiology practice that you have not attended before, it’s important that you bring a copy of your medical history to your new doctor. If you can locate your past mammogram reports, it’s smart to bring them to your appointment. Having prior information about your medical state can give your doctor some idea of any masses or calcifications that may have been present in the past, preventing them from having to complete additional imaging evaluations that are not necessary.
Skip the deodorant the day of your exam.
Do yourself a favor and skip wearing deodorant on the day of your mammogram appointment. If you do wear an antiperspirant, it can appear as little white dots on your scan. These often look like calcifications on your films, which are often the earliest sign of breast cancer. You may also want to avoid wearing a dress so that you only have to remove your top and you won’t have to get entirely undressed for your exam.
Work with your technologist.
Let your mammography technologist know right away if you have noticed any new lumps on your breast. This will allow for you two to work together in order to get the best images possible. While the positioning and the pressure are likely to be uncomfortable, they allow for your breasts to be evaluated properly.
Stay ahead of schedule if you can.
Try to always book your next mammogram when you are finished with your current appointment. While booking a year in advance may seem extreme, it will ensure that you don’t forget to have this very important exam completed once a year.
Don’t worry too much about radiation.
Many women say they don’t like having mammograms completed because they are concerned with the radiation exposure. It is important to know that a mammogram is an extremely low dose of X-ray. On the other hand, the risk of this small amount of radiation is by far outweighed by the benefit of being able to identify cancerous cells in the breast and potential mortality.
Not knowing the results of your test for a while is entirely normal.
Many women get very worried when they do not hear back from their doctor about their mammogram results within hours of their exam. Plain and simple, this type of thing takes time. You should expect to get your results back in about 24 hours. However, sometimes it can take a few days depending on how backed up the lab is.
Family history is important.
Women who are at a high risk of developing breast cancer can be identified through a basis of a genetic mutation or their family history. If this is something that applies to you, you should start having mammograms earlier in life than 40. We would suggest you begin having this procedure completed when you are about 36 years old.
You need a mammogram no matter what.
Even if no one in your family has a history of breast cancer, you need to have a screening. You may not know this, but 60 to 70 percent of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have no risk factors at all.
Annual screenings save lives.
Plain and simple, having an annual mammogram could save your life. This is not something to scoff at. If you want to live a long and happy life, some mild discomfort and a visit to your doctor’s office for a breast exam is imperative.