Q:

What can a patient expect from her first mammogram?

A:

Quick Answer

The mammogram machine compresses a woman's breast between two plates to take an X-ray image of the breast tissue, and this compression may cause some discomfort. Mammogram patients should allot about 30 minutes for the procedure, suggests Mayo Clinic.

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Full Answer

Upon arrival, the patient enters a private mammography room and removes her clothing from the waist up. She receives a gown to cover the top part of her body. Individuals should skip wearing deodorant, lotion, ointment and similar products in the breast area on the day of the procedure, as they may cause the technician to think there may be a problem, according to the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Necklaces also need to be removed before the mammogram.

The technician adjusts the mammogram platform and positions the breast on the bottom plate. The top plate moves down to compress the breast tissue so it is spread out in an even thickness. Patients should expect the compression to last only 20 to 30 seconds per breast, the MD Anderson Cancer Center reports. The compression of the breast reduces the amount of radiation needed to get a clear picture of the breast, and it produces a sharper image, according to the American Cancer Society.

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