Out of every eight women, one will develop breast cancer, and about 43,600 will die from it every year.
The good news is, mammograms are an effective tool for detecting breast cancer early, and early detection means a high rate of survival.
Our team at The Center for Women's Health offers comprehensive women’s care, including mammograms. If you’ve never had a mammogram and are concerned about how it will feel, or you’ve had several and dread your next visit, we can help.
Here, we offer practical tips that can ease the discomfort of your next mammogram.
A mammogram is a type of X-ray that reveals details about your breast tissue, including the presence of tumors. It’s not the only tool we use to screen for breast cancer, but it’s an invaluable one.
Although self-breast exams, where you feel your own breasts for tissue changes and abnormal lumps, are an important routine for every woman, a mammogram can detect problems before you can feel them.
If something of concern shows up on your mammogram, don’t panic. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer, but it does alert us to a potential problem that needs further investigation.
The next step may be breast sonography that gives us even more information about your breast tissue and your blood flow in the area. If necessary, we may perform a breast biopsy to collect a small sample of your breast tissue so we can examine it under a microscope.
Our team can let you know how often you should get a mammogram as it depends on several factors, including your age, family medical history, weight, reproductive history, the density of your breast tissue, and your use of certain medications and hormones.
To get a good image of your breast tissue, our mammogram technician needs to make your breasts as flat as possible. The X-ray machine has two plastic plates that press your breast: one underneath and one from above. It’s important to make sure all your breast tissue is included in the test, so we move you and your breast into a precise position that may feel uncomfortable for a moment or two.
Once your breast is properly placed, we ask you to stay as still as possible and hold your breath while we take the X-ray, then we quickly release the pressure and let you know you can relax.
Although mammograms only take a few minutes, the pressure from the plates and the awkward body position can be very uncomfortable for some women.
At The Center for Women's Health, our experienced team is highly skilled at mammography. We get it done quickly and get it right the first time to spare you any unnecessary discomfort. That said, we do have a few tips that can help you breeze through your next mammogram.
When we place your breast on the plastic plate, we need you to scoot in close so we can capture your entire breast — it may feel like we’re pulling your skin above and below your breast. The best way to accommodate this is to face forward fully, unless we tell you not to.
Plus, if your feet and/or body are turned to one side or another, the twisting may cause you some minor back pain afterwards, so face forward to avoid any twinges.
When you’re anxious, relaxing is easier said than done, but if you can practice mind over matter and take some deep breaths, your mammogram will be much more comfortable.
Tense muscles cause their own version of pain, so do your best to loosen your muscles so we can position your breasts easily.
Positioning your breast so we can get the best image possible requires medical training. That’s why it’s best to leave the job to us. Don’t try to force your breast into position. Your only job is to relax, and you can leave the rest to us.
Our entire team is dedicated to performing your mammogram with respect and dignity, so trust us to be discreet, professional, and compassionate.
We know you want your mammogram to be over as soon as possible, and we make every effort to keep your appointment short. But our goal is to keep you healthy, so if an X-ray is unclear, we may need to redo it.
Also, if you have breast implants, we typically take twice the number of X-rays to check not only for breast cancer, but also for signs that your implants have shifted or leaked.
Call or click to schedule your mammogram and try out these tips at our office in Newport News and Hampton, Virginia