How Long Does a Mammogram Take?
Around the time that a woman turns 35, her doctor will start talking more about mammograms. A mammogram is one of the best ways to detect possible breast cancer at the earliest stage. These screenings are optional for women between the ages of 40-45 and recommended yearly until the woman is 54-years-old. After that, every one or two years is advised.
If you are nearing 40-years-old, or feel something in your breast that isn’t normal, you may need to have a mammogram scheduled. Here is everything you need to know, including how long a mammogram takes.
What is a Mammogram?
We all know that breast cancer is very common. It is said that each year more than 252,710 women in the U.S. alone will be diagnosed with it. It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women. Therefore, it is vital that women get screened yearly as they near perimenopause.
A mammogram is simply an x-ray that is taken of your breasts. Research proves it can detect the earliest signs of breast cancer in women. In fact, it may reveal breast cancer as much as three years before a tumor would be felt through monthly checks.
Due to the fact that so many women now take care of their breasts with regular mammograms, there are more than 3.3 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. We want to see those numbers climb higher.
How is the Mammogram Done?
If you have never had a mammogram done, you may be concerned about it. There usually isn’t much information available on how the mammogram is performed. For most women, it is the fear of the unknown that can keep them from getting their first check, which can be a deadly mistake.
We understand that there are a lot of rumors surrounding mammograms. Most women hear that it is very painful. This is usually not true unless your breasts are already tender because of hormones or other breast issues. Most women who do not have breast sensitivity say that it is merely a lot of pressure on their breasts. This “flattening” or pressure is necessary to get the best image possible of your breasts. Your technician will be sympathetic, but you should know there is no other way to handle it.
When you arrive, you will need to remove your shirt and your bra. The technician will provide you with a gown. You will then stand in front of an x-ray machine and place one breast on the plastic plate that is located there. The technician may help you to adjust for proper placement. The second plastic plate will be lowered onto the top of your breast. The doctor will take a photo and maybe do a quick review of it to ensure that it is a good x-ray before lifting the top plate. They will then help you readjust your position so that the second breast can be x-rayed as well.
How Long Does a Mammogram Take?
If you are curious about how long a mammogram takes, you can rest assured that it only takes a few minutes. Most women are finished within only 15 minutes from the time that they go into the x-ray area. This includes arriving, changing into the cover-up, and having both breasts x-rayed.
Sometimes, there are situations that may prolong your time. An unclear x-ray image is one of the most significant. If the image is unclear, the technician may have to help you make further adjustments to get a better image.
After the x-ray, it may take a little time for your doctor to view it and let you know the results.
What Do the Mammogram Results Mean?
With any luck, your mammogram results will show a negative result. This means that no abnormalities were found. You should schedule your next mammogram for the following year during your appointment.
If the results come back “abnormal” this does not instantly mean that you have breast cancer. It simply means that at the time of your mammogram, something appeared abnormal. Your doctor will most likely recommend that you come in for a second mammogram in about six months.
The second x-ray may be normal. However, if it is abnormal, your doctor will want to look more closely. They may recommend a diagnostic mammogram which will look more closely at that area of your breast. They may also want you to have an ultrasound of your breast. Biopsies are typically the last thing that may happen after abnormal results. This will look for atypical cells so that your doctor can come up with a treatment plan if one is needed.