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Getting your first mammogram?

October 25, 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.

HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital Highland’s Surgical Services and Radiology Director Megan Espenschied, RN, MSN, shared, “It takes very little time to get a mammogram, and the peace of mind it can give you is worth it. Despite the challenges that busy lives can bring, we urge all women to take care of themselves and 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. The best time to schedule your mammogram is 10 days after the first day of your cycle as hormones can play a part in how breast tissue appears on a mammogram.  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.

Jill Helmkamp, mammography technologist at St. Joseph’s Hospital, knows it is important that women make the time for their annual mammogram. She enjoys helping women with their health. She explained, “I always ensure my patients are comfortable and make friendly conversation to help ease their mind.”

To schedule your mammogram at St. Joseph’s Hospital, call central scheduling at 618-607-5600. You can also learn more about the women’s health services offered at HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital here.

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

Getting your first mammogram?