Preparing for Your Mammogram
What should I expect BEFORE my mammogram?
Scheduling your procedure for the week after your menstrual cycle may help to reduce breast tenderness.
What to Wear
On the day of the exam, avoid wearing powders or ointments. If you wear deodorant, please let the staff mammographer know; it may need to be washed off prior to imaging. Most deodorants contain aluminum and can show up on the images. Two-piece clothing is recommended, since you will be asked to undress from the waist up for the exam.
What to Bring
Please bring your insurance card. If possible, obtain any previous mammograms performed at other imaging facilities for comparison purposes.
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What will I experience DURING my mammogram?
You will be asked to remove your clothing from the waist up and will be given a gown. Your highly trained technologist, certified in performing mammograms, will escort you to the exam room. She will ask you a number of important questions concerning your personal or family history of breast cancer, prior surgery, and other medical information that could be important in assessing your breast cancer risk.
If you have any moles or scars on your breast, please point them out to the mammographer before the exam begins.
All high quality mammography requires the mammographer to adequately position and firmly compress the breast so all tissues deep in the breast can be imaged. You may expect this compression to be uncomfortable especially if you have sensitive breast tissue, but it should not be painful and does not harm the breast tissue.
Be sure to inform the mammographer if you are experiencing great pain and discomfort during the exam and less compression will be used if possible.
Remember, breast compression is necessary in order to:
- Even out breast thickness so that all of the tissue can be visualized
- Spread out the tissue so that small abnormalities won’t be obscured by overlying breast tissue
- Allow the use of a lower x-ray dose since a thinner amount of breast tissue is being imaged
- Hold the breast still in order to eliminate blurring of the image caused by motion
- Reduce x-ray scatter to increase sharpness of picture
Routine views are performed. You will be asked to change position between images. You will be asked to hold your breath during the exposure of each picture. The length of the procedure varies from screening to diagnostic and can take from 15 to 45 minutes.
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What should I expect AFTER my mammogram?
After the examination, you will be asked to wait until the mammographer determines the images are of high quality. You will not have any restrictions upon completion of most Mammography exams and may resume your normal activities.
If you do have a procedure that does have restrictions, you will be given specific instructions before you leave the department.
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All Mammograms are read by the Wake Forest University Health Science Radiologists specially trained in Mammography and Women’s Imaging.
Your screening mammogram is interpreted by 2 radiologists within 24 hours of exam completion. Both you and your doctor will be notified of the results by letter. This usually takes about 7-10 days.
Your diagnostic mammogram results are given to you verbally after the diagnostic work-up, usually on the same day as the exam. Both you and your doctor will receive a letter of the results. If the exam is deemed suspicious, then the radiologist will contact your doctor with recommendations for a biopsy or surgical consult and documentation will be made.
For all results (screening and diagnostic), we ask that you call us if you have not received your results letter within 30 days.