Preparing for the Day of your Exam

Bring prior mammogram images: 

If you are changing facilities, make sure you bring any previous mammogram results with you from your old facility to the new one. This is so the radiologist can compare your old results with the new images to look for any changes.

Don’t use deodorant: 

You should avoid using any deodorants, antiperspirants, powders, lotions, creams, and perfumes under your arms or around your breasts since they contain metallic particles that could be visible on the mammogram and confuse your results.

When you arrive at the mammogram testing facility

You will likely be asked to remove all of your jewelry and clothing from the waist up and then will be given a gown to put on.

During the procedure

You will stand in front of an X-ray machine that is specifically designed for mammography.

The mammographer will place one of your breasts on a platform that will raise or lower to match your height. You will have to position your head, arms, and torso to allow the best-unobstructed view of your breast.

Then, your breast will gradually be pressed against the platform by a clear plastic plate in order to spread out the breast tissue and allow the X-rays to penetrate through the breast tissue.

You will be asked to stand still and hold your breath during this time. The pressure being applied should not hurt you, but it may be uncomfortable. This compression is necessary to provide the best image for the radiologist.  

The procedure will then be repeated for the other breast.

The entire procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes. You can usually expect to receive your results within a few days.

What happens after the exam?

A radiologist will review the results of your images to determine if additional testing is needed.

5 to 15% of screening mammograms require additional testing such as an additional mammogram, ultrasound or breast biopsy. If you require additional testing, every effort will be made to schedule them as quickly as possible to ease your mind. Most of these tests turn out to be normal. If there is an abnormal finding, a follow-up or biopsy may have to be performed. Most of the biopsies confirm that no cancer was present.

It is estimated that a woman who has yearly mammograms between ages 40 and 49 has about a 30 percent chance of having a false-positive mammogram at some point in that decade and about a 7 percent to 8 percent chance of having a breast biopsy within the 10-year period.(

Results of your mammography report will be shared with your doctor. Your doctor will consider the mammography information in the context of your overall care, and talk with you about the results.