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Mammography

Woman standing next to mammography machine. Health care provider is positioning woman's breast on machine.

Mammography is an X-ray exam of your breast tissue. The image it makes is called a mammogram. A mammogram can help find problems with your breasts, such as cysts or cancer. Mammography is the best breast cancer screening tool available.

Be proactive

Have screening mammograms and professional breast exams as often as your healthcare provider advises. Also, be sure you know how your breasts normally look and feel. This makes it easier to notice any changes. Report changes to your healthcare provider as soon as possible. 

How do I get ready for a mammogram? 

  • Schedule the test for 1 week after your period. Your breasts are less sore and dense then.

  • Make sure your clinic gets images of your last mammogram if it was done somewhere else. This lets the provider compare the 2 sets of images for any changes.

  • On the morning of your test, don’t use deodorant, powder, or perfume.

  • Wear a top that you can take off easily.

What happens during a mammogram? 

  • You will need to undress from the waist up.

  • The technologist will position your breast to get the best test results.

  • Each of your breasts will be compressed one at a time. This helps get the most complete X-ray image.

  • Your breasts will be repositioned to get at least 2 separate views of each breast.

What happens after a mammogram?

  • More X-rays or an ultrasound are sometimes needed. If not done at the time of your initial mammogram, you’ll be called to schedule them.

  • You should get your test results in writing. Ask about this at your appointment.

  • Have mammograms as often as your healthcare provider advises.

What to tell your provider

Tell your provider if:

  • You’re pregnant or think you may be pregnant

  • You have breast implants

  • You have any scars or moles on or near your breasts

  • You’ve had a breast biopsy or surgery

  • You’re breastfeeding

Online Medical Reviewer: Kenny Turley PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Lu Cunningham RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Neil Grossman MD
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2019
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