If you are breastfeeding and want to come in for a mammogram, there are a few things to consider to make sure you get the best imaging for your breasts.
The first issue to take into consideration is that breastfeeding means your breasts are their densest, from the increased size of the milk-producing glandular tissue and from the milk itself. This dense breast tissue is harder to read in a mammogram, with the possibility of that dense tissue hiding things. The compression required is also a little more uncomfortable than the average mammogram - particularly because of milk leakage. For these reasons, women are often told to wait 6 months after you stop breastfeeding before having a mammogram. However...
The question then becomes: Is this a screening or diagnostic mammogram? If the mother is asymptomatic (that is, screening), it is recommended that she wait approximately 6 months after stopping breastfeeding before coming in for a mammogram. We’ll get a better image, and you will be more comfortable!
If the mammogram is diagnostic because of a lump or some other worrisome change in your breast, don’t wait to get evaluated by your healthcare provider as there are several kinds of imaging that can be used. Breast ultrasound is not as limited by the changes in breast tissue from breastfeeding and may be the first test ordered. Depending on the specifics, mammography may also be needed. MRI of the breast can also be used in women who are breastfeeding, but would generally be used after other tests are done.
The long and short of it is: if you are breastfeeding and want to come in for your annual screening mammogram, it may be okay to put it off until you are done breastfeeding (Important Note: check with your healthcare provider). If you have need for a diagnostic mammogram, don’t wait! There are multiple ways of imaging the breast, and there is no need to postpone getting the care you need.
Originally posted 5/28/13 on mammographykc.com.