According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, breast cancer affects approximately one in every eight American women. Although this disease can be serious if left untreated, it can be detected early and treated effectively with the help of regular mammograms. The American Cancer Society recommends that, beginning at the age of 40, every woman should get a mammogram annually. If you are getting ready for your first annual mammogram, read on to learn more about what you may be able to expect.
- Before your exam: There are steps that every woman can take to make her annual mammogram a more comfortable experience. If you have not yet started menopause, consider scheduling your mammogram during the week after your period, as your breasts will be less tender during this time. Wearing a two-piece outfit instead of a dress will allow you to easily remove your shirt without having to remove all of your clothes.
- During the exam: After you have removed your top, the medical support staff will provide you with a gown to wear. Each breast will be compressed by the mammography machine for about 25 seconds—this helps to provide a clearer image of the entire breast without having to expose the patient to too much radiation. The entire procedure typically takes about half an hour.
- After your exam: If your mammogram was recorded digitally, the radiologist will be able to evaluate your screen immediately and send your physician a report. Although some women have suspicious findings on their first mammograms, most of these are not cancerous. Your doctor will help you understand your results and will recommend more testing if necessary.
Dr. Marla W. Dudak is a fellowship-trained, board-certified breast surgeon who proudly serves the Boca Raton community. If you would like to learn more about the breast cancer diagnostic or treatment process, please call Dr. Dudak’s practice today at (888) 418-6759.