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How to prepare for your first Mammogram

Oct 21, 2020Library

By: Rochelle Somers, Lead Mammography Technologist in the Delta County Memorial Hospital Mammography Department

Preparing for your first mammogram can be intimidating, but at Delta County Memorial Hospital (DCMH) our team of highly trained professionals are here to help you every step of the way.

There is often misinformation about when to get your first mammogram, how often to get them thereafter and the importance of early detection when it comes to breast cancer prevention. That’s why we wanted to answer some of the most frequently asked questions that we receive from patients about breast cancer and mammograms.

Whether you’re getting a mammogram for the first time or want to freshen up on the importance of early detection for breast cancer, we are here for you.

Q: When and how often should I have a mammogram?

Somers: The Mammography Department at DCMH follows the American College of Radiology guidelines which recommends annual screening mammography starting at age 40.  If you have a strong family history of breast cancer, your doctor may advise you to have a mammogram sooner.

Q: How should I prepare to form my mammogram?

Somers: When scheduling your mammogram, try to make your appointment the week after your period.  Some women have increased breast tenderness the week prior to and during their menstrual cycle.

If your last mammogram was done at a different facility, bring a copy of the reports and images with you to your appointment.  If you do not have your images, try to request them or give the name and location of the facility to your scheduler while making your appointment.  The radiologists prefer to have your prior mammogram images so they can compare and check for any changes in your breast tissue.

Do not wear deodorant, powder, or lotions on your chest and underarms.  Some deodorants have aluminum in them which can resemble micro-calcifications on mammographic images.

You will need to undress from the waist up and put a different top on.  Wearing pants or shorts versus a dress may also make changing easier for you.

Q: What is breast tissue density?

Somers: Breast tissue is made of fatty (low-density tissue), and fibro-glandular (dense) tissue.  Breast tissue that is primarily fatty, is easier to see through and look for abnormalities.  Dense breast tissue is harder to see through and analyze.  An abnormality that is within dense fibro-glandular is harder to detect compared to an abnormality in fatty tissue. 3D imaging is very beneficial for imaging dense breast tissue. It allows the radiologist to scroll through the layers of dense tissue and see more detail.

Q: How long does it take to get my results?

Somers: You should receive a letter from DCMH regarding your results within 10 days.  A copy of your results will also be sent to your provider.  Having to request prior mammography images from a different facility will delay getting results.

October is breast cancer awareness month and when you go to DCMH to get your mammogram this month you will be entered to win a gift certificate to local businesses in Delta County. Call 970-874-2214 to make an appointment or visit deltahospital.org.

Rochelle Somers is the Lead Mammography Technologist in the Mammography Department at Delta County Memorial Hospital.