Many women have a love-hate relationship with mammography - love what it can do, hate having to do it. And while most recognize the benefits of screening, there are still large numbers of women who should be getting screened who are not - nearly half of women in the US aren’t getting their annual mammograms! Because early detection saves lives, we’d like to shift that number.
One of the best ways to do this is to make sure you have the best mammogram experience possible. We’d like to empower you with a few simple steps:
1. Schedule your appointment when your breasts are the least tender. This is usually 7-9 days into your cycle, but go with what’s best for you. Less tender means less discomfort and better exam!
2. Have comparison studies available. This means calling ahead and having your prior clinic forward them to your new clinic, or returning to the same clinic you used the previous year. Having your old studies will make your radiologist’s job easier. Anything that makes this difficult job easier is a bonus!
3. Don’t wear deodorant or lotions. They can cause “artifacts” (small-ish flecks or streaks that can be misread, or disguise something that is there). Sparkly lotions can show up -yikes!
4. Take a breath and relax. The compression lasts only seconds. Compression feels tight, but is your friend. Well compressed breast tissue can be easier to interpret, has less motion and can help prevent a dreaded repeat image.
5. Schedule and go for your mammogram at the same time every year. Consistency is a good thing! And it will help you remember!
6. Know that you’re part of a team. No one is an island - your mammography technologist is there for one reason - to get the best possible mammogram for the best possible screening evaluation. She can help you best if you communicate. Tell her your concerns - then relax (as much as you can!). Together, you two can make the experience a positive one!
Image credit: japanese garden texture 6 (steps) by gilliflower (via Flickr) Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Originally published 1/10/14 on mammographykc.com.