Tips For Your First Mammogram

According to cancer screening guidelines, if you’re over 40, or if you have a family history of breast cancer, it’s time to start thinking about getting an annual mammogram.

A mammogram is a x-ray picture of the breast and is used to screen for breast cancer. When it’s used to check for breast cancer in someone who has no symptoms, it’s called a “screening mammogram.” A “diagnostic mammogram” is used to to further investigate suspicious areas and often involves more pictures.

If this is your first mammogram, it’s natural to feel a little nervous. Good news is that getting a mammogram is quick, usually 10 minutes in front of the machine, with an additional 10-20 minutes to fill out paperwork. Here’s some tips for sailing through your first mammogram with a minimum of fuss.

Scheduling Your Mammogram

  • If you do not have health insurance or are not covered for mammograms, give us a call at SHAREing & CAREing—we can direct to free or low-cost mammogram screening locations in the Queens area
  • If you have a regular period, schedule your mammogram a week after your period—this is the time your breasts will feel less tender
  • Make your appointment early in the day if not wearing deodorant or other cosmetics bothers you
  • Schedule your appointment on a date that you can remember every year—know how you’re supposed to change your smoke detector batteries on the two yearly Daylight Savings Time days? Pick a day every year that will remind you to do a mammogram, like October 1 (for Breast Cancer Awareness Month), Mother’s Day, or your birthday
  • If you’re nervous, schedule to go with a friend and have a ladies brunch afterwards!

Before Your Mammogram

  • Check out our Scenes From A Mammogram Facebook album—this photo documentation of Lisa Kramer’s first mammogram will show you what to expect and put you at ease
  • Don’t wear deodorant, lotion or powder in the chest or underarm area—it can show up on the mammogram and be registered as calcifications or other abnormalities
  • Bring deodorant or other cosmetics with you to apply after your appointment
  • Wear an outfit with a separate top and bottom—you’ll need to take your top off for the x-rays
  • Bring the name and contact information of your gynecologist or primary care doctor with you—that way the radiologist can send the mammogram results to him or her
  • Bring something to do while you wait—a book will keep you from worrying about the exam
  • Don’t worry! Mammograms are routine procedures and few women find breast cancer on a screening mammogram

Still nervous? That’s okay. Give us a call at SHAREing & CAREing and we can help walk you through the process. As survivors ourselves, our founders and survivor volunteers have a wealth of experience in getting mammograms and we can make you feel at ease.

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