I was speaking to someone who was about to head to her first screening mammogram. I had forgotten how nervous you can be. As we chatted, I realized that we, as medical professionals, often forget to stress how to prepare for this study.
Here are my screening mammogram pearls in order to get the best images of your breasts:
- Cleanse your chest the day of your imaging.
- Do not put on any body lotion, perfume, powders or deodorant as this may cause artifacts on the image.
- Do not wear any jewelry that may drape across your chest.
- Remove all breast piercings to reduce any artifacts on the images.
- Wear a 2-piece outfit so that you can keep your bottoms on and stay warm as you will be asked to remove everything from your waist up.
- Put the cape on with the opening to the front. They are either paper or cloth capes.
- The technician will place one breast at a time on the platform. The technician will tighten the plates until you are slightly uncomfortable.
- They may ask you to hold your breathe for a few seconds while the image is obtained.
- The technician will take at least two images of each breast and from two different directions.
- After they confirm the quality of the images, they will ask you to get dressed and leave.
Your facility may have a radiologist speak to you the same day but most of the time, you will receive the mammogram report at a later date. The technician cannot give you any information about what they see on their screens. Do not yell at them or argue with them about this. You will be able to review your results via your patient portal in 1-2 days or you will receive a report in a few days in the mail. Do not assume that ‘no news is good news’. You need to see the official report.
If it is negative, they will tell you when to come back for your next screening. Review the report and make sure you understand everything about what it says. If there are any areas that needs to be looked at closer, you will be asked to come back for additional views. This could be a diagnostic mammogram, a breast ultrasound or a breast MRI. This will depend on what they see and your community’s resources. If you are in doubt about how to prepare for the next imaging study, call and speak to someone about what to expect.
These are just a few pearls that may reduce your anxiety and will ensure that you have the best quality images. Send me an email if you would like for me to expand on any of this information.