Mammography, an x-ray used to detect breast cancer in women, is called mammography. Mammograms are the images it produces. These images can show small tumours that are not easily felt. Other irregularities may also be seen on mammograms.

What are the main types and uses of mammograms?

Screening mammogram: This test is for women who have not yet experienced symptoms of breast cancer. It is important to detect the disease early to be treated more effectively.

Based on the risks and benefits of mammography, organizations develop screening guidelines. These guidelines may vary slightly.

Diagnostic mammogram: You may be asked a question or learn more about a particular symptom. These are some reasons why it may be recommended:

  • A screening mammogram identifies suspicious areas
  • Feel a lump in your breasts
  • Other unusual symptoms may also be present

A diagnostic mammogram usually takes more photos of the breasts than a screening mammogram.

Who does my mammogram?

A mammographer, or mammogram technologist, performs this test. Mammographers are specially trained to take x-ray images of breasts. The mammogram is reviewed by a doctor specialising in reading medical imaging tests. A radiologist is a name for this type of doctor.

What should I do to prepare for a mammogram?

Discuss any breast issues with your healthcare team: Mention whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Your doctor may recommend postponing this test in both of these cases.

Scheduling and other preparations for time: Schedule the test within 2 weeks of your period. This is when the breasts of women are less tender.

Other factors can reduce breast sensitivity.

  • Caffeine should be avoided for at least one week before the test
  • Take an over-the-counter pain medication during the test

Financial preparation:

  1. Before you make an appointment, talk to your insurance company.
  2. Ask your insurance provider if the cost of the mammogram is covered.
  3. Ask if you might need to pay part of the cost.

Your insurance company usually covers diagnostic mammography. To avoid any unexpected expenses, confirm your insurance coverage.

Preparation for physical examination: Do not use these products before your mammogram.

  • Deodorant
  • Antiperspirant
  • Powder
  • Lotion
  • Parfum

They can leave a residue on the skin, which could cause spots on an x-ray.

It would be best to take off any jewellery that could interfere with the x-ray. Your clothes must be removed above your waistline, and you will need to wear a hospital gown with an open front.

Communication: Tell the technologist about any questions –

  • Breast implants
  • Pre-existing breast surgery (You might be asked to highlight any scarring.
  • Any concerns you have about your breasts

This allows the technologist to perform the mammogram more efficiently. It also helps the radiologist read your mammogram with more accuracy.

The technologist may place small marks on your skin where you have had breast surgery in the past. This will indicate to the radiologist where there is the greatest risk of recurrence.

Bring copies of any mammograms you’ve had in the past to show the radiologist.

What happens during the test?

The actual mammogram can take between 10 and 15 minutes. As the procedure begins, the technologist might ask you to take a deep breath and relax.

The mammography machine will be in front of you. The technologist will then:

  • Place 1 breast between 2 plates
  • To flatten your breasts, press the plates together
  • An x-ray is a quick and painless way to check your health.

Flattening your breasts spreads the tissue. It makes it easier for you to spot small anomalies. It also stops motion from blurring the image.

The technologist will take photographs of each breast for a screening mammogram. Diagnostic mammograms may require more images. Each image may have slight adjustments in the positions. Next, the technologist will ensure that the images are clear and easily readable.

The technologist might need to take additional images after reviewing the information.

After the test

After your mammogram, you can resume your normal activities.