Chirag Parghi, MD, radiologist and medical director at Solis Mammography, understands mammogram anxiety. He knows it can be uncomfortable and the consequences of having to undergo a procedure often involve the possibility of detecting breast cancer. However, Dr. Parghi thinks this is not a sufficient reason to avoid mammograms. “One in eight women is at risk of breast cancer in their lifetime and the best thing you can do for your health is to have an annual mammogram,” says Dr. “The benefits of finding cancer early go beyond the frustration and anxiety associated with pain.” It can also be helpful to know how to prepare for a mammogram and what to expect at your appointment to quell any worries about it.
What is a mammogram?
A mammogram, or mammogram, is an X-ray test that can detect early signs of breast cancer. Currently, there are two types of mammograms: 2D mammograms, frontal and bilateral mammograms; and 3D mammograms, which take pictures from many different angles.
According to research published in the journal radiology, 3D mammograms have been shown to produce fewer false-positive results and be more effective at detecting breast cancer in women 65 years of age and older. Another study published in JAMA also suggest that they are ideal for women with dense breast tissue or those at higher risk for breast cancer. Although 3D mammograms have their benefits, 2D mammograms are still the standard of care. Regardless, your doctor will be able to tell what is best for you.
Although there are notable differences between 2D and 3D mammograms, the procedure is often the same.
What to Expect During a Mammogram
According to Dr. Parghi, the mammogram process is pretty straightforward. From paperwork to formalities, appointments usually take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, he said. After you fill out the paperwork and before the screening, you will be asked to remove your clothes and change into a gown.
For what to expect transparent mammogram: “We usually take four pictures of the breast—two for each breast—and each set can take anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute,” says Dr. Parghi. When performing a mammogram, the technician (also called a mammogram technician) places the patient’s chest on a “bucky” (or chest support table), then clamps a compression pad over it. chest.
Dr Parghi said this part of the procedure can be uncomfortable, although it is necessary to create a clear picture of the breast tissue and reduce radiation exposure. “When we take pictures, there is a necessary compression,” he said. “It can feel a bit soft and at times, can be pinched, but the end goal is to get a really good photo.”
What to expect after a mammogram?
After a mammogram, Dr. Parghi says you can get your results within a week, and depending on the results, the patient may undergo additional tests and procedures. “Usually about 10 percent [results] read as unusual,” he said. “When this happens, we either want you to come back for more pictures, and sometimes an ultrasound, and then have a small group of patients need a biopsy.”
It can be scary to get a call back from your doctor about your mammogram results, but Dr. Parghi says it’s not always worrisome. “Most of the time, a patient gets additional imaging or biopsies, and nothing at all,” he said. “You have to understand that radiologists are obsessed with detecting anything that could be cancerous and we want to detect it as early as possible.”
How to prepare for a mammogram: do’s and don’ts
For more tips on how to prepare for a mammogram, here are some Dr. Parghi’s do’s and don’ts for your appointment:
1. Wear comfortable clothes
Dr. Parghi recommends wearing comfortable clothing — and conversely, avoiding tight clothing. “Clothes that are tight are less popular because they can cause more pain immediately after wearing. [the mammogram],” he says.
2. Do not wear perfume or lotion
“We recommend avoiding wearing perfumes or lotions,” says Dr. Parghi. “It may show up as an artifact on a mammogram.” Artifacts can degrade image quality and may appear as or obscure irregularities. Dr. Parghi even recommends skipping deodorant on the day of your appointment. “If you wear it, they’ll usually give you a wipe to remove any antiperspirant.”
3. Don’t confuse yourself.
When you’re getting ready for a mammogram, “don’t worry that it’s going to be painful or cause you a lot of anxiety,” says Dr. Parghi. “Whatever your personal dance to anxiety reduction, engage in that process before you go to your appointment.”
4. Prioritize mammograms.
“I’ve seen too many women aged 40 and over, even 35, delay getting a mammogram that could have saved their life — and I’ve witnessed too much,” says Dr. many terminal cancers. “Too many women skip a mammogram and it’s a little awkward to talk about, but it can save lives.”
frequently asked Questions
How long does a mammogram take?
Parghi says the mammogram will take about 15 to 20 minutes, and as mentioned, each image taken during the mammogram will take about 30 seconds to a minute.
Is it okay to have a mammogram while on your period?
Being on your period shouldn’t affect your mammogram results, says Dr. Parghi. However, he does mention that women tend to be more sensitive in their cycles. “[Breast tissue] can be very sensitive to different hormonal fluctuations like in the menstrual cycle, so that could also contribute to pain,” he says.
Can you take painkillers before your mammogram?
It’s perfectly safe to take over-the-counter pain relievers to prepare for a mammogram, and people who are sensitive to pain or anxiety can get a prescription, according to Dr. Parghi. However, he does not recommend anxiolytics for most of his patients but only a small number of patients, adding that the latter should not drive to appointments that day or drive go home.
Can you drink caffeine before a mammogram?
You can drink caffeine before a mammogram, but for some women, especially those with cystic fibrosis, it can increase pain during the procedure, says Dr. “Cystic fibrosis is a common condition where these small water balloons, like tiny water balloons, form in the breast called cysts, and they can be painful,” he says. “If you’re in that situation — and it’s a common, non-cancerous condition — it can cause caffeine-related pain.”