Mammogram FAQ

What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is a specialized test that takes an x-ray of the breast tissue to detect cancerous tumors that cannot be seen or felt. Mammograms can also detect microcalcifications, tiny fibers of calcium that sometimes indicate the presence of cancerous tissue.


How is a mammogram performed?
A special machine compresses your breasts one at a time so that they can be x-rayed, using x-ray film designed specifically for viewing breast tissue. Two images are taken of each breast from different angles.


Why is a mammogram performed?
Mammograms are chiefly used as a screening tool for breast cancer, and can also be performed to examine a lump or growth.


Will I have to remove my clothes during a mammogram?
You will be expected to undress from the waist-up. Wearing a two-piece outfit is best.


When should I have a mammogram?
All women past the age of forty are encouraged to schedule mammograms every 1-2 years. The risk for breast cancer increases with age, so regular screenings are crucial to the detection of any irregularities. Any woman at a higher than average risk of breast cancer should talk with her physician about whether to have mammograms before the age of 40 and, if so, how often to have them.


Should I do anything to prepare for my mammogram?
You should be careful not to wear any lotions, deodorants, powders, or creams on your chest before the procedure, as they can conflict with the imaging. You should also ask your doctor several important questions (link) before scheduling a mammogram.


Are there any possible complications that could result from my mammogram?
You may experience slight skin irritation or aching, which can be alleviated by an over the counter pain reliever. If you experience any other side effects or complications, contact your physician.


Sources: cancer.about.com, womenshealth.about.com


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