Mammograms are the most common type of women’s imaging used to diagnose and screen for breast cancer. Still, if you’ve never had a mammogram before, chances are you have some questions about the process. Below, we’ll take a look at the most commonly asked questions about mammograms.

What are the benefits of a mammogram?

Mammograms are the single best diagnostic tool available to detect breast cancer well before any symptoms appear. Early detection of breast cancer helps give a woman more choices for treatment as well as a better chance of fighting their breast cancer than they would have if it was discovered at a more progressed stage.

When should I get a mammogram?

According to the American Cancer Society, women can begin screening for mammograms as early as 40. Women ages 45 to 54 are encouraged to get annual mammograms. Women with a family history of breast cancer should start screening much sooner, so if you have a family history of breast cancer then be sure to speak with your doctor to determine the best age at which to start getting mammograms, and the best frequency

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is a method of imaging that uses x-rays to take detailed images of all sides of a woman’s breast to detect any abnormalities that could indicate breast cancer. Mammograms can be used as both a screening test or ordered as a follow-up diagnostic test. 

What happens during a mammogram?

A specially trained radiology technologist will perform the X-ray. Women will be asked to stand beside an x-ray machine as plates are used to compress the breast for better images. This compression may be somewhat uncomfortable, but it is necessary to produce the best pictures while using the lowest amount of radiation possible.

How long does a mammogram take?

The mammogram itself should only take around 15 minutes, however you will be asked to undress and redress before and after your x-rays are taken.

Do mammograms hurt?

Sometimes, women will experience some discomfort or pain in their breasts from the pressure of the plates. Your radiologist will recommend that you avoid scheduling your mammogram during the time around your menstrual period to avoid breasts being overly tender.

When can you expect your results?

How quickly you receive your results may depend on whether you’re having a screening or diagnostic mammogram. You can usually expect to see the results of your screening mammogram within two weeks. If you’re having a mammogram as a follow-up test, you may get the results the same day.

Hopefully this has helped answer some of your questions about getting a mammogram. You can also ask your doctor or radiologist any questions you have about the mammogram process or your results. Mammograms ensure that breast cancer is detected as early as possible, and they are a crucial, life-saving screening test that every age-appropriate woman should consider.