Hillary Chybinski: Getting a Mammogram - Why You Should Get One, What to Know and What to Expect

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Getting a Mammogram - Why You Should Get One, What to Know and What to Expect

As a woman of a "certain age", it is recommended that I get a mammogram once a year.

That time has rolled around once again, and as I was driving to my appointment, I thought about the many women out there that are afraid or uncertain. Don't be.  The consequences of NOT going are much much scarier.

My Scraps | Why You Should Get a Mammogram and What to Expect

Why do you need a mammogram? Women diagnosed with early breast cancer, when the cancer is small and has not spread, have a high chance of surviving it.  Mammograms are the best way to find it.

When I got there, I filled out some paperwork and then went into the changing room.  The changing room had a small mirror and a chair.  There were also lockers to put your clothing into while you were having the procedure.

You need to undress from the waist up. My facility provides pink cloth gowns that provide more than adequate coverage.

Mammogram Appointment

You are not supposed to wear any deodorant, powder or cream (I stuck a travel deodorant in my purse to use afterwards).  I had to wait a few minutes and then it was my turn.

My facility uses a digital imaging machine and the machine looks like this: 
Digital Imaging Machine

The tech had me take one arm out of the gown, and step up to the machine.  She helped to place my breast on the "shelf", while I faced forward, and she adjusted the screens to a snug fit.  I can see where if you have small breasts, this could be difficult and/or uncomfortable.  Work with your tech - a good one will know how to help you.  We shifted positions for a side view, and then repeated the two processes for the other side.

And that was it.

It's good to know that if you have any moles or large freckles, the tech may put a sticker on them for marking purposes.  You can (and should) remove the stickers when you're all done.

Some tips from the American Cancer Society:
  • Use a facility that specializes in mammograms.  It is quite ok to ask to see the FDA certificate showing that the facility meets high professional standards if you are unfamiliar with the facility.
  • Once you find a facility that you like, try to make your annual appointments at the same location so mammograms can be compared from year to year.  If not, have copies made for you and your physician.
  • Mammogram costs, or a percentage of them, are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private health plans.  Call the American Cancer Society to find out about low-cost mammograms in your area.
  • If you have sensitive breasts, try to schedule your appointment during a time in your monthly cycle where your breasts are the least tender.
  • You will have to undress from the waist up, but will be given a gown to cover up.
  • Do not wear deodorant, powder or cream under your arms that day, as it can interfere with the quality of the mammogram.
  • Only you and the technologist will be present, and most times the technologist is a woman.
  • The entire procedure only takes about 20 minutes.
  • If you do not receive results in 10 days, call the facility to follow-up.
If you are under age 40, your insurance may not cover the expense. Discuss options with your insurance carrier and your doctor to find the right course of action for yourself. You can contact the American Cancer Society 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org

catch you soon -

note - I did not receive any compensation for this post, nor was I asked to post by the American Cancer Society. I post because I care and all opinions are, as always my very own.


  1. I'd be curious as to how it fits on a shelf - I guess the smallness of mine make this seem impossible! HA!