Q: Is it going to hurt?
A: Compression of the breasts is necessary for a good mammogram. It allows the radiologist, the doctor who reads the mammogram, to see the normal breast tissue better and to detect an abnormality. Compression also lowers the radiation dose to the breasts. Women who have very tender breasts may experience discomfort. To reduce this discomfort, schedule your mammogram one week after your period when the breasts are typically not as tender.
Q: Why do I need additional views?
A: Frequently the four standard views are adequate. However, it is common for the technologist to perform additional views if an area of tissue is not well seen on the standard views. In addition, the radiologist may request extra views to clarify an area of density or calcification seen on the standard views.
Q: Why shouldn’t I wear any deodorant?
A: Some ingredients in deodorant can simulate calcifications in the breasts. When calcifications are seen on a mammogram, additional mammogram pictures are required to better visualize them. Thus, deodorant may cause you to have additional unnecessary pictures.
Q: Can I have an ultrasound instead of a mammogram?
A: Mammography is the best test to evaluate the entire breast. Ultrasound is used as a “problem solver” to further evaluate an abnormality seen on a mammogram or a lump felt by the patient or physician.
Q: I have had many negative mammograms in the past. Is it necessary to keep having them?
A: Since the risk of breast cancer increases with age, it is important to keep having mammograms. If a cancer is found, it is best to find it early when the chance for a cure is highest. Studies have shown that a mammogram every year is the best test we have to catch breast cancer early.