Frequently Asked Questions About Mammograms

Frequently Asked Questions About Mammograms

Why do I need a mammogram?
What can I expect?
Will it hurt?
What about radiation?
When will I get the results?
What if I have questions?

Why do I need a mammogram?

A mammogram can make a big difference in your quality of life. Chances are, it will simply reassure you that everything is fine. But, if something unusual does show up on your mammogram, you will have given yourself an incredible gift. Because breast-health problems found early are very treatable.

What can I expect?

No matter what kind of breast-health care you need, the staff at any one of the Swedish Breast Centers will always treat you with the utmost courtesy, respect and professionalism.

When you make your appointment, we will need to ask you about your breast-health history. Please let your care provider know if you have breast implants, if you're nursing or pregnant, if you have any problems with your breasts or if you have any special needs.

On the day of your mammogram, remember not to use deodorant, powder or lotions around your breasts. They may show up on the X-ray, altering the image. We have deodorant for you to freshen up with after your exam, if you would like.

Also, you'll probably be more comfortable if you wear a two-piece outfit with a top that you can change in and out of easily.

For your mammogram, we will give you a robe and ask you to undress from the waist up. In a private room, you will stand in front of the mammography machine where one of our specially trained female technologists will position your breast on an adjustable platform that holds the X-ray film. A clear plastic plate will then gradually press down on your breast, flattening it against the platform.

Generally, two X-rays are taken of each breast — one from above and one from the side. Each time your breast will be fully compressed for only a few seconds. Rest assured, breast compression is not harmful. In fact, it allows us to get a clear picture of your breast, using a very small X-ray dose.

Will it hurt?

Most women who have had a mammogram will tell you that breast compression is uncomfortable, but not painful. It is a good idea, however, to schedule your mammogram when your breasts are least tender — typically two or three days following the end of your menstrual cycle. You may also want to consider taking a pain-reliever to reduce the discomfort.

What about radiation?

We use only the most modern mammography equipment — which uses a very low X-ray dose. Your risk from radiation exposure is very small compared to the benefit of finding a problem early.

Recent media stories have focused on the relationship of mammography and thyroid cancer.

Read the full statement from the Swedish Breast Centers medical leadership regarding this issue

When will I get the results?

Your report will be in the mail within 7-10 days of your visit — after your films have been reviewed by a board-certified, specially trained radiologist. Radiologists at Swedish also use computer-aided detection (CAD) technology which increases the likelihood of detecting small or early stage cancers. If your mammogram raises any concerns, we will contact you and your doctor immediately. Likewise, if you are worried about your mammogram, please let your doctor or our staff know.

What if I have questions?

It's not unusual to have questions. Our nurse educators are a terrific resource for anyone with questions about breast health or mammography. She even can help you with a personal risk assessment.

Swedish Breast Centers

Locations & Contacts
Mobile Mammography Schedule

What to Expect


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