What to Expect During Your Mammogram
Understanding what happens during a mammogram will help reduce any anxious feelings you might have. It is important to know that only a small amount of radiation is used in mammography.
When you have a mammogram, you stand in front of a special x-ray machine. The radiologic technologist lifts each breast and places it on a platform that holds the x-ray film. The platform can be raised or lowered to match your height.
The breast is then gradually pressed against the platform by a specially designed clear plastic plate. Some pressure is needed for a few seconds to make sure the x-rays show as much of the breast as possible.
This pressure is not harmful to your breast. In fact, flattening the breast lowers the x-ray dose needed.
Studies show that most women do not find a mammogram painful for the short time needed to take the picture. Try to relax. If the pressure becomes painful, you can tell the radiologic technologist to stop.
If there is an area of your breast that appears to have a problem, the radiologist or radiologic technologist may examine the breast.
Can having a mammogram be harmful to my breasts?
The benefits of having a mammogram far outweigh the risks. It may be more harmful not to have mammogram than to have one. The earlier a malignant tumor is detected, the better. Adequate compression of the the breast is needed to obtain a good image. The more compression is used, the lower the amount of radiation needed to pass through the breast in order to create the x-ray image. Compressing the breast does not harm the breast tissue, but may cause bruising in some women. There is no scientific evidence linking an increased risk of breast cancer with compression of the breast tissue.