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Preparing for your mammogram

You have finally decided to get a mammogram done.

Screening mammograms are recommended for women from age 40 upwards. Here are some tips for your first mammogram 1. Schedule at the right time Schedule your mammogram when your breasts are not tender or swollen to help reduce discomfort and get good pictures. Try to avoid the week just before your period. 2. Don't wear deodorant or antiperspirant on the day of your mammogram. The compounds commonly found in deodorants, some lotions and powders can show up on mammographic images as white spots, which look a lot like tumors, so it's better not to wear deodorant to your mammogram. 3. Dress comfortably You might find it easier to wear a skirt or pants, so that you’ll only need to remove your top and bra for the mammogram. 4. Always describe any breast changes or problems you’re having to the technologist doing the mammogram.

Describe any medical history that could affect your breast cancer risk—such as surgery, hormone use, breast cancer in your family, or if you’ve had breast cancer before. 5. To get a high-quality picture, your breast must be flattened.

The technologist places your breast on the machine’s plate. The plastic upper plate is lowered to compress your breast for a few seconds while the technologist takes a picture. A standard screening mammogram from start to finish usually takes about 15 minutes. The actual breast compression only lasts a few seconds. 6. Most women are always nervous about getting their annual mammogram.

It is normal to feel nervous when going for a test whose purpose is to answer the question, 'Might I have cancer?' However, the important thing is to acknowledge the anxiety and then not let it prevent you from going to get a simple test which can be lifesaving. Remember to get your annual mammogram done before the year runs out. See screening centres here. Credits: American Cancer Society USNews Health NIH

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