What to expect when having a mammogram- common questions answered

Mammograms are probably the most important tool we have not only to screen for breast cancer, but also to diagnose, evaluate, and monitor people who’ve had breast cancer. Safe and accurate, a mammogram is an X-ray photograph of the breast.

For women at average risk, screening mammograms should be performed annually beginning at age 40 to check the breasts for any early signs of breast cancer.

If you have a higher risk of breast cancer, you and your doctor may decide that you will start screening mammograms at a younger age.

Below we answer some of the most common questions our patients often ask us at Lakes Radiology:

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast and can detect up to 90% of breast cancers.

Mammograms can detect a lump as small as a grain of rice.

Why should I have a mammogram?

It is recommended for all women aged 40 and over to have a screening mammogram every two years. Early detection of breast cancer is critical, having a mammogram can save your life!

How often should they be done?

Every one to two years. High risk women with a strong family history need to be referred to a high-risk screening clinic by their GP.

How do I prepare for a mammogram?

It is advised not to use deodorant, powder, or lotions and wear loose comfortable clothing, 2-piece clothing on the day is best. A specially trained radiology technologist will perform the X-ray. The radiology technologist will ask the patient to undress from the waist up, put on a gown, and stand next to the X-ray machine. Read more about how to prepare HERE

What happens during a mammogram?

Two flat surfaces, or plates, are slowly squeezed together and compress each breast for a few seconds. This compression is necessary to produce the best pictures using the lowest amount of radiation possible.

Are mammograms painful?

Some women find the pressure of the plates on their breasts to be uncomfortable or even painful. Timing your mammogram when your breasts are not tender is important. In premenopausal women, this is usually 1 week after your menstrual period. If you do experience discomfort or pain, talk to the technologist who will try to make it as painless as possible. Remember that each X-ray takes just a few moments and could save your life.

What are the benefits of a mammogram?

Today’s high-quality screening mammogram is the most effective tool available to detect breast cancer before lumps can be felt or symptoms appear. Early detection of breast cancer not only helps provide a woman with more choices. It also increases her chances of having the best possible outcome.

Is there a risk of radiation exposure from having regular mammograms?

You may want to ask your healthcare provider about the amount of radiation used during the procedure and the risks related to your particular situation. Special care is taken at Lakes Radiology, Morisset to make sure that the lowest possible amount of radiation is used when you have a mammogram.

Find out more about mammograms at Lakes Radiology HERE

Don’t delay, book your mammogram today, call (02) 49 733 732.


Breast Cancer Organisation




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