Breast Health: What to Expect During a Routine Breast Screening

Gynecologic Oncology
March 17, 2021
4 min read
Breast Health: What to Expect During a Routine Breast Screening

Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed forms of cancer among women in America. It is estimated that 13% of all U.S. women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. If you are over the age of 40,  have a relative who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, or if you just have general concerns, you should schedule an appointment for a breast examination and screening.

What Is a Routine Breast Screening?

A breast screening or mammogram is a test that examines the breast’s tissue. The test involves using low-dose X-rays to produce an image of the breast tissue. It helps detect any abnormalities of the breast, such as lumps that may be too small to be seen during an exam. Studies have shown that routine breast screenings can detect breast cancer in its earliest stages when it is the most treatable. Women who are age 40 and over should get a mammogram regularly.

How Do I Prepare for A Breast Screening?

If you are preparing for your first mammogram, there are a few things you can do to make the experience much more comfortable and less stressful:

  • If you haven’t started menopause yet, you should schedule your mammogram a week after your menstrual period is over. Your breasts will be less tender during that time.
  • Be sure not to wear any deodorant, lotion, powder, or ointment, as these products can sometimes cause an issue that is not really there to show up in the X-rays.
  • Wear a two-piece outfit to the appointment so that you only have to remove your top during the exam. You will be provided with a gown to wear during the     screening.
  • Bring along the name, address, and phone number of the doctor who referred you for the mammogram. After the exam, the facility will send a report to your     doctor. 

How Long Does a Breast Screening Take?

A mammogram typically takes around 30 minutes to complete. You can expect each breast to be compressed for about 20 to 30 seconds for imaging. Although the compression can be uncomfortable, it is an integral part of the screening because it allows the tissue of the breast to spread and then flatten. That allows for a clearer view of the breast and decreases the amount of radiation required to create the image.

What Should I Expect from the Results?

After your mammogram is completed, a radiologist will review and send their report to your doctor. It is common to get some suspicious findings after your first mammogram because you do not have any previous reports for comparison. For that reason, you must save your mammogram results and take them with you to future exam appointments.

Keep in mind that most suspicious findings are not a sign of cancer. They could simply be cysts, dense layers of tissue, or just an unclear image. If your doctor has concerns about any suspicious findings from your screening, they will probably schedule a second mammogram to evaluate the issue further. In some cases, your doctor may request a breast ultrasound.

A breast screening can help save your life. While it may be uncomfortable, the process takes only a few seconds to complete. Getting a regular mammogram recommended by your doctor is one of the most effective ways to ensure you live a healthy life cancer-free.

If you have concerns before or after your recent screening for breast cancer, get in touch with BASS Medical Group for assistance. Our professionals can perform a lab exam and provide consultation regarding your screening results. Get in touch with us today for more details.