Ten Tips for Getting a Mammogram

  1. Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40.
  2. Use a facility that specializes in mammograms or that performs more than three each day. Ask to see the FDA certificate showing that the facility meets high professional standards.
  3. If you are satisfied with the facility, continue to go there each year so that your mammograms can be compared from year to year. If not, take copies of your old mammograms to a new facility so that they will have them for comparison.
  4. Some, or all, of the cost of a mammogram may be covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private health plans. Call the American Cancer Society (1.800.ACS.2345) to find low-cost mammograms in your area.
  5. All mammogram facilities are required to send your results to you within 30 days and to contact you within five business days if there is a suspected problem. Call your doctor or facility if you do not receive your results.
  6. Only two to four of every 1,000 mammograms will lead to a cancer diagnosis. 10% of women may require an additional mammogram, but only 8-10% of them will need a biopsy. Eighty percent of those biopsies will not be cancer.
  7. The procedure will require you to undress to the waist, but the facility will provide a wrap for you to wear.
  8. Deodorant, powder or cream under your arms may interfere with the quality of the mammogram.
  9. Only you and the technologist, who positions your breasts, will be present for the mammogram. Most technologists are women.
  10. The entire procedure should take about 20 minutes and should include two views of each breast. The breast compression may cause some discomfort, which you can lesson by not scheduling a mammogram immediately before or during your period. Tell the techonologist if you experience pain during the procedure.

Remember: If you have a lump in your breast, you will need more tests even if your mammogram is normal.

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