It’s October and that means it’s a return to Fall, Halloween, Football and everything turning pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month. The best thing you can do to celebrate October is schedule your own mammogram. I unfortunately have had friends with breast cancer and some discovered it via a mammogram and others noticed a lump on their own and pursued it with their doctor. No matter how it is discovered, it is vital to discover it as early as possible. Do not let fear of a mammogram ( or the results) make you delay getting yourself checked out! I’ve shared this before, but I am always amazed at how many women fear getting their first mammogram. For those of you who haven’t had a mammogram yet, I thought I would share these first-timer tips again.
1. Go to a center that specializes in mammograms. I’ve been to several different types of centers, all of which were certified in mammography and now go to a major women’s hospital for my mammogram. My reasoning for this is that I often need to have several different types of testing done and I prefer to do it all one after another versus waiting for my scans to be read on a different day and then making another appointment. At my center, a radiologist is on site to review scans real time, so I leave with my results. Other centers have a system where your results are mailed to you. Every center is different and the one I go to definitely takes much longer during the appointment than going to a suburban center, but works best for me personally. If you have a preference, ask your gynecologist for a recommendation or call and ask several centers in your area how and when the scans are read and results delivered to you.
If you switch between centers, you want to make arrangements ahead of time to have your previous scans sent to your new center for comparison.
2. Your day of instructions will say to not wear deodorant, lotion, powder of any kind that day. Be truthful when they ask you if you wore any, because it can show up on your mammogram. I try to make my appointments early in the day because of this.
3. Wear two piece clothing. You will be removing your top and bra and putting on a robe. Make sure you wear something easy to remove and comfortable. I wear very little to no jewelry that day just because I don’t want to have to keep track of it.
4. If you go to a big hospital screening center, bring a book, have a game on your phone or iPad to pass the time. In my particular case, I usually have to wait in between scans for the radiologist to read them and then go into the next set, so it helps cut down on nervousness and irritation if they are backed up and I have to wait.
5. Just go do it! It’s a few minutes of some minor discomfort. And I mean minor. Compared to everything else women go through, this is a piece of cake! Don’t be nervous about the process! It is a little disconcerting to have some one else move your breasts around the machine, but they do it all day, every day for a living, so just relax! The whole thing takes about 10 minutes from changing your clothes to having your mammogram done.
6. Don’t panic if they say you need to get a more detailed scan or a sonogram! Again, a few minutes for both and they just want to check something in more detail. It can be for a variety of reasons, usually because the tissue is dense, could be a cyst or maybe the picture just isn’t clear. Nothing to freak out about at all! You could be told immediately after your mammogram that a more detailed look is needed or you could receive a card in the mail or a call from the center.
I of course have to qualify this by saying I am not a medical professional and these tips are based on my personal experiences and preferences. Hopefully, this has made you feel a little more at ease and you will be scheduling yours this week!