What Happens During a MammogramThe Breast Cancer Site
Getting a mammogram can be scary if you don't know what to expect. Will it hurt? Does it take a long time? These are important questions. Calm your fears and read our list of what to expect when getting a mammogram:
Things to know beforehand
Try to schedule a mammogram more than a week before your period or right after you have it. The test can be painful if it is done before or during your period when hormone changes cause your breasts to be tender. It is also important to not wear deodorant to your appointment because it can interfere with the X-ray. You will have to undress from the waist up, so you may want to wear pants or a skirt, not a dress, in order to feel more comfortable during the test.
You will be asked to remove your shirt and bra and put on a hospital gown. The technologist will have you stand in front of an X-ray machine. He or she will place your breast on a horizontal plastic plate. Then they place another plate on top of your breast. You will feel pressure as the plates squeeze together, flattening your breast. It should not be painful, but you will likely feel discomfort.
You must hold still in this position while the X-ray is taken. Then the same thing will be done to your other breast. Next, the process is repeated for each breast but from a side view in order to get the full picture and better assess your breast health. Once your mammogram is done, a radiologist will look at the images. Within a few weeks, you will hear from your doctor. He or she will tell you that there is nothing to be concerned about or that you need to come in for further tests. Be sure to call your doctor if you haven't received results within a month of your mammogram appointment.