Most of us avoid pain, and with good reason. But if some women shy away from mammograms because they find them painful, the consequences could be far-reaching. About one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lives. Mammography is the best way to detect breast cancer early, when it’s easier to treat.
Does It Hurt?
Getting your breasts squeezed during this low-dose X-ray procedure can be uncomfortable. During mammography, the technologist places each of your breasts, in turn, between two plastic plates to flatten them. The flatter your breasts, the more accurate the picture.
This discomfort doesn’t last long, and the whole screening takes only about 20 minutes. Plus, you can take several steps to make the screening easier.
Rosalia Hyatt, MD, obstetrics/gynecology specialist, Riddle Hospital, suggests, “Women who believe the procedure is too painful should have it done after a menstrual cycle,
when the breast is less sensitive.”
Preparing for Your Mammography
Before the exam, avoid substances that make your breasts tender. The biggest culprit is probably caffeine. Caffeine lurks in coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate, some colas, and over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers, appetite suppressants, and cold medicines.
Here are a few more helpful tips:
- Tell your mammography facility if you have breast implants when you make your appointment.
- Wear a two-piece outfit on the day of your exam; then you’ll need to remove only your bra and top.
- Before your appointment, avoid using deodorant, perfume, lotion, and powder. They can cause shadows or white spots on your mammogram, making it harder to analyze.
Do You Need This Screening?
The benefits and limitations of mammography vary based on factors such as age and personal risk. Experts have different recommendations for mammography.
The American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology recommend yearly screening for all women ages 40 and older.
Women should talk with their doctor about their personal risk factors before making a decision about when to start getting mammograms or how often they should get them.
Dr. Hyatt says, "The risk for death from breast cancer has decreased more than 30 percent in about 20 years all due to screening mammograms, breast self-exams, and improved treatments.”
Mocktails, Mammograms & Manicures!
Now's the time to schedule your annual mammography. Main Line Health hospitals are offering complimentary mocktails and manicures as a reward for doing something good for yourself. The following events are from 4 to 8 pm:
- Wednesday, July 11 at the Main Line Health Center in Newtown Square
- Wednesday, July 18 at Paoli Hospital
- Thursday, July 19 at Riddle Hospital
Riddle will offer appointments using the DEXA scan for bone density testing; you may schedule both exams.
Space is limited so call today to reserve your spot. Please mention the Mocktails, Mammograms and Manicures event when you call.
Register by calling 484-580-1800
NOTE: For this event, please remember to bring your prescription and your insurance cards. Most insurance carriers do not require referrals or copays for screening mammography. Please check with us.