What to Expect with Mammograms

What to Expect with Mammograms

Useful Information on the Most Common Screening Exam for Women

Mammography is a test that uses X-rays to create images of the breast and is currently the most effective screening tool used to find breast cancer in most women. It can find cancers at an early stage when the chances of survival are highest. If you’re getting a mammogram for the first time, you may have questions about what to expect (before and after).

Mammograms can be done in radiology imaging centers, mammography clinics, and hospital radiology departments. Before the mammogram, you will undress from the waist up. So, it’s a good idea to wear a shirt you can remove easily. Avoid using deodorants, antiperspirants, perfumes, powders, or lotions on your breasts and underarm areas on the day of the exam. Ingredients in these products can show up on a mammogram and make it harder to read. During the exam, each breast is pressed between 2 plates, and an X-ray image is made. Two views of each breast are taken, one with the X-ray beam aimed from top to bottom and the other from side to side.

The pressure may be uncomfortable, but it should only last a few seconds. If you have concerns, talk with your health care provider to see if taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) before the exam is suggested.

 Screening mammograms are recommended for all women without breast symptoms over the age of 40 on a yearly basis. It is also recommended that women perform a monthly breast self-exam and undergo a clinical breast exam by their physician annually. You may need a screening mammogram before the age of 40 if you have a family history of breast cancer or other factors that increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer.  Your primary care physician can help you decide when you should start screenings. 

Some centers give you the results of your mammogram at the time of your screening. With others, it may take up to 2 weeks to get your results. If a finding is abnormal or the mammogram wasn’t clear enough for the results to be read, you will be called back for more tests. Follow-up may include a diagnostic mammogram, breast ultrasound,or breast MRI. Most abnormal findings are not breast cancer. Sometimes, an abnormal finding is a benign breast condition. 

Annual mammogram screenings are often covered by insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid for those over the age of 40.  Check your coverage to see what out of pocket expenses you might have.  In some cases, it might be cheaper to pay cash (not use your healthcare coverage) directly with the imaging provider.  Medmo can help you find imaging near you and help you decide the best way to cover your scan.  You can use your insurance or opt for exclusive Medmo self-pay discounts to lock in a cheaper mammogram near you.  

To book a scan, visit us at Medmo.com. Medmo helps people schedule radiology imaging tests – such as MRI, CT scans, PET, and more – at nearby accredited centers and identify the payment solution that works best for them.


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