How Do You Prepare Yourself for a Screening Mammogram


A mammogram is conducted for the detection of breast cancer. It is an X-ray procedure done at a clinic and is relied upon for reducing the number of breast cancer deaths across the globe. In this procedure, the breasts need to be compressed between two film surfaces so that the tissue of the breast spreads out evenly.  The X-ray gets black and white images on the screen that are examined by your doctor to determine whether there are any symptoms of cancer. Generally, the mammogram is performed for diagnosis or screening. The number of times you have the mammogram depends upon your age and health condition.

Difference between the screening mammogram and the diagnostic mammogram

With the screening and the diagnostic mammogram, doctors are able to detect tumors and other abnormalities in the breast. They are resorted to for evaluating breast lumps. The screening mammogram is conducted to find changes in the breast of a woman so that abnormalities and signs for breast cancer are detected before the clinical symptoms are noticed. On the other hand, the diagnostic mammogram has the goal to detect any kind of suspicious changes in the breast like a lump, or pain, an unusual appearance in the skin, discharge from the nipple, or thickening of the breast nipple. It is used to located abnormalities on the screening mammography as it provides the doctor with additional information.

Preparing for the procedure

You should be mentally and physically prepared for the procedure. Given below are some helpful tips to keep in mind-

  1. Choose a certified facility- Enquire to see whether the facility where the mammogram will be conducted is certified or not by the FDA. This certification indicates the facility meets specific standards laid down by the Food and Drug Administration.
  2. Schedule a suitable time and make sure your breasts are not tender- The breasts aregenerally tender the week before and after your period if you have not experienced menopause.
  3. Bring images of any previous mammography tests- If you are visiting any new facility for the test, ensure to have all your mammography images stored in a CD. Take this CD to all your appointments so that the radiologist can compare them to new images.
  4. Never use perfumes or deodorants before the mammogram- Do not use deodorants, creams, lotions, etc. under breasts or arms before the mammogram. They contain metallic particles, and they can show on the mammogram, causing confusion.
  5. Ask your doctor for an over-the-counter medicine if you find the mammogram uncomfortable- There are medicines like ibuprofen, aspirin, etc. that can be prescribed to you an hour before the test to alleviate any pain or discomfort experienced during the mammogram.

After the images of the screening mammogram have been taken, you will be requested to wait for some time. The radiologist checks the quality of the images, and if they are not clear, you may be requested to undergo the procedure again. It generally takes 30 minutes to complete the test. Once the images are fine for medical evaluation, you may take off the gown and dress back into your own clothes and go home.

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