Your First Mammogram

    Getting ready for your first mammogram can admittedly cause some anxiety – here are a few thoughts to help you ease into the exam.

    When Should I Get a Mammogram?

    As we’ve mentioned before in this blog and on our website, RMI advocates for annual mammograms starting at age 40. Although there has been debate about this, our radiologists specialized in women’s imaging support this metric. Top among the reasons to get a mammogram annually is the fact that if you develop breast cancer, catching it early drastically improves survival. Survival rates improve by 20% with regular mammograms.

    For more details, see the Susan G. Komen page detailing survival statistics.

    What Happens at my First Mammogram?

    Please review these instructions under “Preparing for Mammography” before arriving for your mammogram.

    After arrival, you will be placed in our home-like and soothing full dressing room to change into a gown for the examination. (You will need to undress from the waist up). A friendly RMI technologist will bring you into the mammogram room and review your patient information information before the exam starts.

    At this point, it is a good idea to ask questions and discuss any concerns you may have.

    The technologist will then take several types of images of each breast,  from the top to bottom and from the sides. This is required as the entire breast cannot be viewed on just one image. The tech will guide you through this step-by-step and make sure you are comfortable.

    The mammography device will compress your breast for a few seconds to hold it in place and get a clear x-ray image. The technologist will check the images to make sure they are clear, and you will be dismissed to go change back into your clothing and proceed to check-out.

    Will It Hurt?

    It should not hurt, but there may be mild pressure. In some rare instances, there could be bruising if you are using blood thinners. If you had recent breast surgery, there could be some discomfort.

    The compression by the mammography machine is required to get the best images of your breast tissue. However, please let our RMI tech know if you feel pain during your mammogram!

    What if I Have Breast Implants?

    You can have your annual mammogram without any problems. Our techs can use a method to displace the breast tissue in front of the implant so the image is better for the radiologist when they exam it. The method is safe and won’t harm the implant.

    If you Are Called Back

    One of the more anxiety-producing results of mammograms is if you are called back for a follow-up. There are several things to keep in mind. First, don’t panic. The reasons for a call back are many — perhaps there was a portion of the image that was blurry or unclear, and we absolutely want to make sure the radiologist has good images or extra views from which to make a report. It’s not uncommon for 10% of women to be called back and it is normal. Second, keep in mind our team works closely with your primary care physician to provide comprehensive follow-up. You will be kept informed of any results.

    Questions About Your First Mammogram?

    We’re always ready to answer questions you may have about your first mammogram. Simply call our friendly staff at 810-732-1919 and they will be happy to help.