October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October 7, 2011 at 2:47 pm Leave a comment

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is dedicated to increasing awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer. If you are a woman age 40 or over, mammograms should be done every year for as long as you are in good health.

What to Expect During a Mammogram

When you arrive for the exam, you will be asked to undress to the waist, but you will be given a gown to wear. The entire procedure should take about 20 minutes. Your breasts will be compressed between two plastic plates; the compression may be painful, but should only last a few seconds. Usually, two views of each breast are taken. Only you and the technologist who positions your breasts will be present for the mammogram.

Here are some tips for having a mammogram:

  • Use a facility that specializes in mammograms or that performs many (at least 3 to 5) each day.
  • If you are satisfied with the facility, continue to go there each year so that your mammograms can be compared from year to year. If you do go to a new facility, bring copies of your old mammograms.
  • Try not to schedule a mammogram when your breasts are likely to be tender or swollen. This will help lessen the discomfort and get a good picture.
  • Do not wear deodorant, powder or cream under your arms the day of your exam. Some of these contain substances that can interfere with the reading of the mammogram.
  • Call your doctor or the facility if you do not get your results. All mammogram facilities are now required to send your results to you within 30 days.
  • Always describe any breast symptoms or problems you are having to the technologist who is doing the mammogram. Be prepared to describe any related medical history such as surgeries, hormone use, and any breast cancer that you or a family member has had.
  • Before having any type of imaging test, tell your radiology technologist if you are breast-feeding or if you think you might be pregnant.

For more information about mammography screening, visit the American Cancer Society’s website.

Entry filed under: Managing your health, To Your Health.

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