As a woman in your 30s or 40s, you’ve probably heard a lot about the importance of breast exams and screenings for breast cancer. You may have seen pamphlets and diagrams showing how to check for lumps. But what happens if you actually find something abnormal? What can you expect during a diagnostic mammogram? In this article, I’ll share my own experience and the advice of a medical professional to give you an idea of what to expect.
Types of Mammograms and Breast Cancer Screenings
First, let’s clarify what we mean by “diagnostic mammogram.” There are a few different types of procedures used in breast cancer screening, including:
- Screening Mammogram: This is a regularly scheduled mammogram for women who have no signs of breast cancer. It tracks changes in breast tissue over time.
- Diagnostic Mammogram: This type of mammogram is used when there is a concern or change discovered during a regular mammogram or exam.
- Breast Ultrasound: A breast ultrasound is used to get a closer view of a specific lump or cyst. It can be done alongside a diagnostic mammogram to determine if the lump has any concerning characteristics.
When You Notice a Lump
If you find a lump in your breast, it’s natural to feel anxious and unsure about what to do. When I found a lump in my breast, I scheduled an office visit with my doctor. She agreed that the mass should be screened and ordered a diagnostic mammogram for me. As someone who had never had a mammogram before, I didn’t know what to expect.
My Experience Getting a Diagnostic Mammogram
Surprisingly, my diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound experience was a positive one. The staff at the breast cancer center were kind and reassuring, creating a soothing environment. The mammogram itself was not as uncomfortable as I had anticipated, and the whole process was efficient. I didn’t have to wait long for the results because the doctor reviewed my scan immediately and decided that an ultrasound was necessary. The ultrasound provided a clearer picture of the lump, and the doctor determined that it was a benign cyst. I was advised to keep an eye on it and have another mammogram in a year.
How to Prepare for a Mammogram Appointment
If you’re preparing for a mammogram appointment, here are some tips:
- Avoid wearing a dress or one-piece outfit to make it easier to undress for the mammogram.
- Avoid wearing jewelry, deodorant, lotions, or perfumes as they may interfere with the imaging.
- If possible, schedule your mammogram during the second or third week of your menstrual cycle to minimize discomfort.
- Try to relax during the mammogram and avoid any unnecessary movement.
Alleviating Concerns About Call Backs
If you receive a call back after a mammogram, it’s important to remember that most call backs do not result in a diagnosis of cancer. They are often done to gather more information and rule out the possibility of cancer. While waiting for appointments and results can be anxiety-provoking, it’s crucial to stay on top of recommended mammogram schedules. Detecting breast cancer early greatly increases the chances of successful treatment.
Remember, everyone’s experience with a diagnostic mammogram may be different, but I hope sharing my experience can help alleviate some anxiety and provide insight into what to expect.
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