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What to Expect During Your Mammogram

Patient sits ready to get her mammogram

The mammo, the myth, the legend. Every woman knows about it, but not every woman knows exactly what to expect if you've never done it before. And when your doctor tells you it’s time for your first mammogram, it may be slightly nerve-wracking as you contemplate this rite of passage.

Whether you are approaching the age of 40 or have a higher risk related to a family history of breast cancer, it’s normal to have a little apprehension about scheduling your first mammogram appointment.

Although getting a mammogram might cause some nervousness, it’s necessary to remember why you’re doing it and prepare yourself mentally before your appointment.

Take Control of Your Breast Health

It might be tempting to procrastinate that phone call to schedule your mammogram. Or you might be concerned with the rest of your family and put your own health needs at the back of the line. When it comes to your mammogram, though, it’s important to dig deep and get it done. Mammograms save lives and detect any changes early so breast cancer can be identified and treated in its earliest stages and increase chances of survival.

Mammograms Are Not Painful

Mammograms can be uncomfortable, but they aren’t painful. Breast compression is necessary to get the best images. Although everyone has a different pain threshold, a mammogram should not be painful unless your breasts are already tender. If you do feel pain, let the mammographer know and they can help you.

What Doctors Are Looking For

After your mammogram, a radiologist will evaluate your images. They look for different types of changes in breast tissue, which include calcifications, masses, and other suspicious areas that could be signs of cancer.

If it's your first mammogram, your radiologist will not have any prior images as comparisons, so it is possible that you could get a call back for more images to be taken. Don't panic. Most findings end up being benign.

Why Mammograms Are Important

A mammogram is such a powerful tool because of its ability to catch breast cancer early. In fact, it can detect breast cancer up to two years before a tumor can be felt by you or your doctor.

Catching cancer early means:

· Therapies like breast conservation therapy will be most effective.

· Treatment can begin early, possibly before the cancer spreads to other parts of your body.

· You’ll have the best possible chance for a cure.

Know Your Risk for Breast Cancer

It’s important to know your risk for breast cancer. Some risk factors you can control, like your weight and lifestyle. Others you can’t, including:

· Age

· Density of breast tissue

· Family history of breast cancer

· First menstrual period before age 12

· Genetic mutations BRCA1 and BRCA2

· History of fibroids or other benign breast conditions

· Race and ethnicity

Feel Empowered with Preventive Care
If you’re between the ages of 20 and 40, you should have a clinical breast exam by your doctor at least every three years. If you’re 40 or older, an annual screening mammogram is recommended.

If you haven’t had a mammogram in the past year and you’re over age 40 with no abnormal symptoms, you can self-refer for a screening mammogram. Simply make an appointment at one of our AdventHealth breast care locations by visiting or calling Call800-776-5102.

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