As a woman, there’s quite a lot to deal with in life. There are plenty of ups and downs, but we always come out of every trying experience stronger. This is why even though it can be scary to think of the prospect of any kind of cancer, it is something we should take precautions for.

Many women fear the process of having their first mammogram. If you’re one of them, we are here to ensure that there’s nothing to fear. The process itself is simple and won’t take more than 20 to 30 minutes. If you are in your late 30s or early 40s, it’s time to have your first mammogram screening. Even if you don’t have any symptoms, a check-up won’t hurt anyone. A mammogram is an X-ray picture of your breast that detects early signs of breast cancer. Although there are many tests that can show signs of breast cancer, a mammogram screening is the best.

Many doctors use mammography as the only reliable way to test for breast cancer; as it can detect cancer cells three years before any symptoms appear. Early detection makes the treatment process easy. Here’s what you should know before going for your first mammography.

Choosing The Right Facility Is Important

Once you decide on getting a mammogram, the next big step is to choose where you’re going to get it done. Before you choose any facility, you have to understand that not all facilities or centers are alike. Even though they all offer the same service, they don’t have the same quality. The first thing you should look for when looking for the facility is whether it has passed an FDA-required certificate or not. This certificate guarantees a safe and clean environment for the tests and offers a follow-up after your mammogram. To make sure that the center you choose is certified, you can check their website or ask them directly. 

Once you make sure that the facility is certified, it’s time to know what type of screening options they offer. Unfortunately, many medical centers have outdated technology that doesn’t provide accurate results. Right now there is 2D and 3D mammography that provides an accurate picture of the breasts and can detect any signs of cancer. Also, make sure that the center has ultrasound and stereotactic-guided biopsy in case you need more tests. 

For your mammography, it is always recommended to choose a center that specializes in breast cancer. By going to a breast center, you’re ensuring that you will have an accurate test with the latest technology. Not only that, but you will also have any follow-up screening on the same day if required. 

Understand The Process 

Before you go for mammography, you should understand how the process goes in order to make sure that you’re prepared for it. First, you must undress from above the waist, so avoid wearing dresses or one-piece outfits. It’s best to wear pants or skirts, with a top or t-shirt. The facility will then hand you a wrap to wear before you go to the mammography room. The mammography technologist will position your breasts on the mammogram. The mammogram consists of two flat panels. In order to get an accurate, high-quality picture, your breasts should be flattened between the panels. That’s why the upper panel will start to gently compress for a few seconds while the mammography technologists take the required pictures. You’ll learn when you read more here on how the process works and how many pictures are required to get an accurate result as the number of pictures varies. Some women only need 2 to 4 pictures, while others may need more. Your technologist will inform you whether you will need more pictures or not. However, the whole process will not take more than 20 minutes. 

Although you might feel discomfort or pressure during the process, it doesn’t hurt, and if it did, you should inform the mammography technician. To reduce the discomfort and ensure that it wouldn’t hurt, it’s better to get your mammogram done after your period. The days before and during your period leave your breasts tender and a little swollen, which can make the process painful. 

Avoid Deodorants 

A mistake that all women make is wearing deodorants or perfume when having a mammogram. Your doctor should inform you before you go but in case they forgot, don’t wear any deodorant, perfume, lotions, or cream. We understand that you want to smell nice and fresh, but these products can change the mammogram pictures. Even though deodorants are not applied on the breasts, the mammogram takes pictures of under the armpits as well. The aluminum in deodorants and other products are viewed as white spots in the pictures. These white spots are similar to cancer cells. So if you’re wearing deodorant, your results will be positive for cancer. If you don’t feel comfortable not wearing any deodorant or perfume until your appointment, you can wear it and remove it with wet wipes or even wash it up before you go for your mammogram. 

Know Your Family History
Know Your Family History

Before you go for your appointment, you should know your family medical history. This will help the doctor know what to look for in the mammograph. If your family has a history of breast cancer, there’s a high chance that it has passed on to you but there are no signs showing yet. If your doctor is aware of this information they will do more check-ups to see any signs of cancer and provide you with the needed medical care. 

Going on your first mammography can be a bit scary at first, but once you understand the process, you will find that there’s nothing to be scared of. You can contact the center and ask them in detail about the process or any other question you have in mind. If at any point you want to change the facility, you can ask them to transfer your records to the new center. The most important step is to choose a breast center that offers the latest technology and will follow up after the mammograph.