7 Things to Know Before You Get a Mammogram
Mammograms are an important step in evaluating cancer risk and help to uncover some tumors that might otherwise have gone undiscovered. Discovery of cancer at this stage is one of the keys in surviving the condition. Women 50 and over are at highest risk for developing cancer and all women should begin having mammograms once they’ve reached this age.
Here are 7 things you should know before you get that mammogram:
- Mammograms are partially covered by most health care plan to a certain percentage level: Most plans, including Medicare and Medicare, cover the cost of mammograms to a certain percentage but not completely. Check with a few different centers that provide mammograms to help save on costs. The American Cancer Society is one source.
- Centers Which Perform X-rays on a Regular Basis Offer the Most Consistent Care: In order to get the best care, it will help a great deal to get your mammogram at a location that routinely performs mammograms and x-ray procedures 3-5 times a day. This means that their equipment and their skills are more likely to be current.
- Once You’ve Found a Good Center Stick to it: If you’ve found a center, keep going to the same place. Not only will you be sure to have the same quality of care, you will also feel more relaxed and get a more accurate evaluation as a result because all of your X-Rays can easily be compared for variations. Remember mammograms should be done yearly!
- Don’t Wait for Your Results: There is no reason that you shouldn’t have heard the results of your mammogram by the time that 30 days have passed. In fact if there are any major and clear abnormalities, they should have reached you within 5 days of the mammogram.
- Don’t be Self-conscious: Many women are nervous and timid when they go in for mammograms fearing that they will be dealing with male technicians and doctors along with the natural uncomfortable feelings about having to undress. The fact is that most technicians and doctors who conduct mammograms are women and when a mammogram is conducted, you will be offered as much modesty as is possible through wraps or gowns.
- Be prepared: There are a few things you can do to be better prepared for the exam. Try to schedule the mammogram at a time when you are not having a menstrual cycle and avoid wearing deodorants, creams or powders in your armpit area on the day of the exam to avoid interference with the machines.
- Relax: A mammogram only takes about 20 minutes to complete. During the exam there will be 2 exams of each breast and the only part of the procedure that should feel uncomfortable is the breast compression. If there’s any more than a minimum of discomfort, be certain to tell the technician immediately!
The risk of developing breast cancer is quite small and remains at about 1%. Of every 1000 women who are tested, there are 4 who result in a cancer finding and many of these are ruled out by a second mammogram or biopsy.