Useful Tips

Rules for preparing for a mammogram


Welcome to our site to all readers who have devoted their time to us. This is your first time going to a mammogram and you want to know what this procedure is, and how to prepare for it? Then this article is written as if for you.

It will be useful to all women, because an x-ray examination of the mammary glands, which is the classic mammography, is considered one of the mandatory examinations of women after 40 years.

Today we’ll talk about the classic breast examination. After all, there are a lot of types of mammography, each of them has advantages, disadvantages and the degree of potential harm. And deserves a separate article.

What is a technique

Mammography is a non-invasive study of breast tissue, based on the use of x-rays. The procedure involves taking pictures in two to three projections, which allows you to establish the exact location of the tumor, if it is detected. Both mammary glands are examined. Usually the procedure lasts no more than 10 minutes.

This diagnostic method is considered to be one of the most informative. The smallest neoplasms are visualized on the obtained images, which are not yet felt during a physical examination. Thanks to mammography, doctors are able to prescribe timely treatment without surgical intervention to their patients.

Study frequency

Since the risk of breast cancer increases in women after 40 years, starting from this age, you should be tested regularly. Many patients have a question: "How many times a year can a mammogram be done after 40 years, so as not to harm the body?" The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that women aged 40-50 years be examined once every 2 years.

After reaching 50 years, you need to visit the diagnostic room more often. This is due to the fact that with age there is a significant weakening of the body's immune system and a change in the hormonal background, and therefore the risk of developing cancer increases. Experts, answering the question of how often to do a mammogram after 50 years, say that the optimal frequency of the procedure is 1 time per year. If the patient has a history of breast cancer, then it is recommended to undergo examination at least 2 times a year.

With mammography, the body receives a radiation dose of 0.4 mSv (millisievert). Subject to the recommended periodicity of the study, such irradiation is unable to lead to impaired functioning of various organs and their systems.

Frequent procedures can cause harm to the patient (for example, more than 1 time in 30 days or 1 time several months in a row).

Doctors, answering the question of how often you can do a mammogram after 60 years, talk about the frequency recommended for 50-year-old women. In the presence of alarming symptoms (violation of the contours of the mammary glands, chest pain, tightness in the tissues, changes in the shape of the nipples and the appearance of secretions from them), a mammogram is prescribed regardless of the patient's age.

On which day of the menstrual cycle is it better to be diagnosed

One of the most frequently asked questions concerns when it is best to do a mammogram - before or immediately after menstruation. At the beginning of the menstrual cycle (before ovulation - the exit from the ovary of a mature egg), the female body is under the influence of estrogen - a group of female steroid hormones. Thanks to them, the mammary glands become softer, relaxed and less sensitive. Therefore, the result of a study conducted from the 5th to the 12th days of the menstrual cycle will be more accurate, and the procedure will cause a minimum of discomfort to the patient. This is the answer to the question of what day of the cycle a mammogram is done.

On days 14-16 (during ovulation), the amount of estrogen in the female body increases and reaches a maximum value. As a result, the mass of glandular elements, often merging with each other into cysts, increases in the chest.

Within the 17-28th days, the steroid hormone progesterone prevails in the female body. Under its influence, there is an increase in blood flow in the mammary glands and an increase in their swelling. If a mammogram is performed during this period, tissue densification that is not pathological can cause a false positive test result.

In addition, at this time, many women experience pain in the chest, which is why it is impossible to fix it correctly between the plates of the mammograph to obtain a high-quality picture. Therefore, answering the question of whether it is possible to do a mammogram before menstruation, it should be said that the procedure in this period is not recommended.

In case of emergency, the examination can be carried out on the last day of menstruation, but not earlier, otherwise the picture will be completely uninformative and will not allow the attending physician to make the correct diagnosis.

During menopause (complete cessation of menstruation and the extinction of the reproductive function of the female body) it does not matter when to undergo a mammogram. You can take pictures on any day convenient for the patient.

Rules for preparing for the procedure

Before a mammogram, a woman needs to follow a few recommendations:

  1. 3-4 days before the examination, exclude chocolate, alcohol, coffee, strong tea from the diet, as they can lead to an increase sensitivity of the mammary glands and the appearance of pain during their fixation between the plates of the diagnostic apparatus.
  2. Another important condition, which is the answer to the question of how to prepare for mammography, is the refusal to use deodorants and lotions in the armpits. Talc contained in cosmetics can get on the chest and cause shadows to appear on the pictures, which will be regarded as signs of pathology.
  3. Immediately before the procedure, you need to take off your neck jewelry and clothes to the waist.

If the patient has pictures obtained earlier, they must be taken for the upcoming examination with you. This will allow the doctor to study the dynamics of changes in the state of the mammary glands. That's a total of everything you need for a mammogram.

Alternative diagnostic methods

Doctors, with the goal of visualizing neoplasms, as an alternative to mammography, assign patients an ultrasound scan (ultrasound) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

If changes in the tissues of the mammary glands are clearly visible on the x-ray, the image obtained during the ultrasound scan also makes it possible to evaluate the state of regional (adjacent) lymph nodes. Ultrasound diagnostics provide an opportunity to pre-distinguish a benign tumor from a malignant one, as well as examine the foci of pathology in those places that are not visible on the mammogram (for example, if they are close to the chest).

MRI allows you to obtain volume layered images, which visualize even the smallest changes in soft tissues. In this regard, this diagnostic method gives too many false positive results, which is why patients are subsequently unnecessarily subjected to many unpleasant tests, including biopsies.

In addition, the examination on a magnetic resonance imager is long (more than 30 minutes) and expensive. Therefore, it is recommended that it be carried out after mammography, if the woman has alarming symptoms, but the doctor cannot make a diagnosis based on the received x-rays.

In response to the question of whether it is painful to perform mammograms of the mammary glands, it should be said that it all depends on the individual sensitivity of the patient and her pain threshold. Women may feel discomfort while pinching the chest between the plates of the x-ray machine, but only 15% of the patients experience distinct pain.

As practice shows, pain occurs in those women whose mammary glands are very elastic. In isolated cases, the pain persists for several hours after the examination. Very rarely, after diagnosis, small hematomas remain on the breast surface in patients. Therefore, there is no reason to be afraid of the examination.

Do I need to prepare for the procedure?

Preparation for mammography of the mammary glands is not required. Yes, and there is hardly a way to prepare the gland. A little general preparation is still needed.

  1. It’s not worthwhile to panic proactively. If you have been assigned to mammograms, this does not mean that a “sentence” should be expected.
  2. A couple of days before the examination, give up drinks that affect the vascular system (coffee, strong tea, alcohol, energy).
  3. For a day, refrain from cosmetic procedures in the bust area: stop using body cream, antiperspirant deodorants, lotions, etc.
  4. Prepare and take with you the results of previous examinations, a medical card.
  5. If you do not have a short haircut, bring an elastic band or any accessory with which you can lift and stab your hair.
  6. When choosing clothes, find yourself from the dress, a separate top and they will be the best choice, because the upper part you will need to remove. A bra should also be comfortable to quickly bring yourself topless.

Just before the procedure you will have to remove metal jewelry, watches.

If you have had a breast biopsy, you are taking female hormones, breast enlargement using lipolifting or mammoplasty, be sure to warn your doctor. You have a higher risk of getting a false-positive result than other patients.

When is the study scheduled?

At the age of 40, you should undergo an examination for the first time if you did not have / was not expected to have benign / malignant neoplasms in the glandular tissue of the breast.

Then, as a preventive diagnostic study, you regularly repeat it. If in the interval between scheduled examinations you find:

  • densification in glandular tissue,
  • changes in the shape of the glands, volume,
  • sharp asymmetry
  • breast deformation,
  • discoloration of the skin or areola,
  • peeling,
  • discharge from the nipple.

Or your chest is very sore - this is an occasion to conduct an unscheduled examination.

For women of reproductive period, a procedure can be prescribed in exceptional cases. Girls under 18 are not assigned at all. As an alternative, a safer ultrasound scan has proven itself.

Danger of procedure

Is mammography harmful? If it is done once a month, no doubt. There is nothing useful in x-rays. But the dose, even with the classic "grandfather's" mammography, is lower than with fluorography. Are you afraid to do fluorography? It is unlikely that you are already used to this study. Modern digital mammographs give even less radiological burden. Domestic medicine considers the harm from mammography to be minimal in comparison with the benefits it brings.

It is interesting that a number of Norwegian scientists, and their colleagues from Denmark, do not consider the x-ray load on the female body insignificant. And they publish studies confirming the correlation of breast cancer growth with an increase in the number of examinations.

Examination regularity

Often women, for the first time, having the need for an X-ray examination of the breast, ask how often can a mammogram be done? This study is recommended to be carried out:

  • 1 time in 2 years,
  • and if there is a predisposition to breast cancer, once a year.

Examined less often, you can skip the nucleation of the tumor, more often - it is harmful to the body.

How is it carried out?

How do mammograms, you reasonably interested in? There is nothing complicated for the patient in the process. Have you taken a chest x-ray? This study is also an X-ray, only your glands are “removed”. Princes are used the same. Entering the office you:

  • Undress to the waist
  • Come to the device
  • The lab assistant places your gland between its plates and exits,
  • You hold your breath while he takes a picture.

The glands are removed in two projections, each separately. This is the standard mammography procedure. Usually a woman stands in the process of research. But modern digital devices will allow reclining or lying down.

How painful is mammography?

Does it hurt to do a mammogram, you ask your experienced friends in this matter? They will recommend taking ibuprofen or some kind of analgesic before going to the hospital. Take medication in advance is not worth it. The procedure is unpleasant, you will experience tangible discomfort when the chest is pressed a little between the plates of the device. But unbearable pain in the norm should not be. After mammography, the breast may ache a little. If the discomfort is severe, tell your doctor.

Why are glands clamped by plates?

The answer is simple, to obtain reliable results. Your chest is fixed, and doctors get a clear shot.

With “flattening”, the thickness of the tissues decreases, it is easier to “enlighten” them, and the radiation dose can be minimized. The “flattening” of tissues makes it possible to better examine them, see small tumors, diagnose the disease at an early stage, while it is still treatable.

When to plan the procedure?

Of course, you know that the time of examination of the female genital area is clearly related to its cycle. But what about mammography, on which days is it better to go on a study? It depends on your cycle. The average is called a 5-12 day cycle. This time is good for you if the cycle is regular and standard. But, if you have:

  • short regular cycle - the optimum for you will be 3-5 days of the cycle,
  • long regular - 10-18 days.

If the cycle is not regular, consult your doctor. When is the best procedure for a woman in the menopausal and postmenopausal period? When you want, that is, any day.

What do I diagnose with mammography?

This procedure is considered informative for the detection of various neoplasms. What exactly is she showing? Not bad visible with this examination:

  • fibrocystic disease or mastopathy,
  • formed calcifications
  • duct hyperplasia with fibrous.

With its help, doctors recognize cancer. This method is one of the leading way to identify pathology in its early stages.

If a mammogram shows the presence of a neoplasm, conduct an additional examination. There is a chance of a false positive result. When the diagnosis is correct, do not panic, immediately proceed to treatment. If you have good results, do not forget to repeat the procedure on time. Since there is a risk of false negative results.

Mammography Types

We discuss this issue at the end of the article, because all the previous considerations relate to mammography:

These are the most common, but not the only types of it. Today, another x-ray method is undergoing clinical testing, which allows to obtain a three-dimensional image of the glands - digital tomosynthesis. It is considered a step into the future. In addition, mammography is used:

  • Electrical impedance. It is allowed for women during gestation and lactation. But inferior to the classical method. The effectiveness is 75%.
  • Microwave / radiothermometry (RTM). Used to diagnose early stages of cancer. It is considered highly effective (performance is close to 100%).

This concludes our review of mammography, as a method for examining the glandular tissue of the breast, and the rules for preparing for it. We hope our information was useful and somewhat new to you. And you share it with your friends through social networks.

Preparation for mammography includes 7 important points.

  1. Mammographic examination of the breast must be carried out no earlier than a week after menstruation, otherwise the examination will cause discomfort and also make diagnosis difficult. Keep this in mind when making an appointment.
  2. Before you go to the procedure, you need to carefully prepare for a mammogram, taking with you all the medical records, videos and photos of previous mammograms, if any. The doctor may need all these materials, the results of mammography can be compared with previous records, as well as to trace the dynamics of important aspects of the development of the mammary glands.
  3. Two days before the procedure, try to exclude some foods from the diet:
    • coffee,
    • products containing caffeine
    • energy drinks.
    Caffeine can increase sensitivity to pain and generally impede the course of the study. In addition, this substance can increase the feeling of anxiety, which is already present before undergoing any medical examination.
  4. For mammography, it is better to choose separate clothing. You will be asked to take off your clothes from the torso, so you can safely stay in your pants and feel more comfortable. If you come to the examination in a dress, then you will have to undergo the procedure almost without clothes. Конечно, вам могу выдать халат или больничную простыню, но в своей одежде вы, вероятно, будете чувствовать себя более защищенно. Также позаботьтесь о том, чтобы ваши украшения легко снимались, ведь их придется убрать на время обследования.
  5. Перед процедурой не используйте следующие косметические средства:
    • дезодаранты,
    • лосьоны,
    • антиперсперанты,
    • крема,
    • спреи.
    The area of ​​the chest and armpits should be clean and unprocessed makeup on this day. The above items may include metal elements that distort the results of mammography.
  6. Before the examination, talk with your doctor about your complaints and doubts. The radiologist will examine your medical record, but it may not have enough information. Any of your comments about your health can help make the correct diagnosis after the examination.
  7. Each woman who begins to prepare for a mammogram may experience anxiety, which can increase the discomfort from the procedure. Then the advice of friends about taking pain medications comes into play. However, it is difficult for a person far from pharmaceuticals to determine which pain medication is best to choose and how it can affect the diagnostic results. Do not experiment with health, it is better to consult a doctor with these questions who directs you to a mammogram.

So, following the rules that we talked about, you can undergo a mammogram without unnecessary worries, as well as avoid distortion of the results, which are so important for a correct and timely diagnosis.