Update HSHS to remain in-network for Illinois Aetna click here to read more

Getting your first mammogram?

October 24, 2022 

Getting a mammogram might seem intimidating for those who have never gotten one before. If it's new to you, you might be going to an unfamiliar facility, and everyone seems to have their own story about their experience. However, mammograms are key to an early breast cancer diagnosis. These x-rays can detect breast cancer even before a lump can be felt.

“It takes so little time for a mammogram, and the peace of mind it can give you is worth it,” said Ashley Davis, RN, CLC, nurse navigator at HSHS St. Anthony’s Women’s Wellness Center. “No matter how busy life can get, we urge all women to take the time for themselves to have their annual mammogram.”

Make the most of your mammogram with these tips.

  1. Talk with your health care provider. If you've noticed any changes to your breasts, be sure to discuss them with your health care provider before you have your mammogram.
  2. Take steps to prepare. To ensure your technologist gets good pictures of your breasts, schedule your mammogram when your breasts are not tender or swollen to reduce discomfort. Try to avoid the week before your menstrual cycle if you're still menstruating, as that is when breasts are commonly tender. Also avoid wearing deodorant or antiperspirant on the day of your exam, as deodorants can show up as white spots on a mammogram. It is also good to avoid lotions and body spray arounds your breasts or armpits to allow for a clear image.
  3. Try to relax. A technologist will position each of your breasts for the x-rays. You and the technologist are the only ones in the room. People often feel some discomfort during mammograms. That's because your breasts must get compressed on a machine plate for a high-quality x-ray. This compression will only last a few seconds on each breast. If you start to feel discomfort, tell your technologist right away.
  4. Follow up with your health care provider for results. Often, your health care provider will contact you with the results of your mammogram. If you do not hear from them within 10 business days, do not assume that your results are normal. Call the facility where you had your mammogram or your provider to get your results. A full report will be sent to your provider. Clinics also must mail patients their mammogram results within 30 days or as quickly as possible if the results suggest cancer.

Susan Koontz, radiologic technologist RT(R)(M)(CT) and mammography facilitator at St. Anthony’s Women’s Wellness Center, has been caring for patients at St. Anthony’s for 35 years. She shared, “Mammograms have improved over the years with curved paddles and soft mammogram pads. It only takes about 15 minutes, and it can save your life.”

Call 217-347-1601 to schedule your mammogram at any of HSHS St. Anthony’s convenient mammography locations – in Effingham at the Women’s Wellness Center or within the Effingham Obstetrics and Gynecology office, or in Mattoon at St. Anthony’s Diagnostic Center. You can also learn more about the women’s health services offered at HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital here.

To learn more about breast cancer prevention, visit https://www.cancer.org/breastcancer.
Source: American Cancer Society

Getting your first mammogram?