Preparing for a Mammogram

When the time comes to schedule your mammogram it can seem overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time. However, even if you have had a mammogram before, you still may have questions surrounding the process, preparing for a mammogram, WHAT options you have, and what's next. 

Before we touch on some common questions about getting a mammogram, here are some ways to help you prepare for your mammogram, according to the American Cancer Society

  • If you have a choice, use a facility that specializes in mammograms and does many mammograms a day.
  • Try to go to the same facility every time so that your mammograms can easily be compared from year to year.
  • 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.
  • On the day of the exam, don’t wear deodorant or antiperspirant. Some of these contain substances that can show up on the x-ray as white spots. If you’re not going home afterward, you might want to take your deodorant with you to put on after your exam.
  • 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.
  • If you’re going to a facility for the first time, bring a list of the places and dates of mammograms, biopsies, or other breast treatments you’ve had before.
  • If you’ve had mammograms at another facility, try to get those records to bring with you to the new facility (or have them sent there) so the old pictures can be compared to the new ones.
  • Discuss any recent changes or problems in your breasts with your health care provider before getting the mammogram.

It’s important to know that you have a choice. You can choose where you have your mammogram done. Therefore, choose a facility that specializes in mammograms and does many mammograms a day, like the Firelands Center for Breast Care.

FAQ: Mammogram preparation

When should I get my first mammogram done?

According to the American Cancer Society, women should consider a 2D or 3D mammogram when they reach the following ages:

  • Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms.
  • Women ages 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
  • Women 55 and older can switch to mammograms every 2 years or can continue yearly screening. Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
  • All women should understand what to expect when getting a mammogram for breast cancer screening – what the test can and cannot do.

How should I dress for the appointment? What clothes items will I need to remove for the exam?

If you can, come dressed to your appointment in comfortable, easy-to-remove, clothes. You will not have to get undressed fully, but you will need to undress from the waist up. That means, removing your shirt and bra. Your nurse or doctor will provide you with a disposable wrap to cover up while you are waiting to start your exam. 

Who is in the room while I am getting the exam done?

A certified technologist will be the only one in the room with you. They will be the ones helping to position your breasts on to the machine.

What happens after my breasts are in the machine?

According to the American Cancer Societyto 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.

Does it hurt?

The procedure should not be painful, however, you may feel some discomfort and pressure. It is important to tell the technician if you are feeling a lot of pain. 

When will I get my results?

At Firelands Regional Medical Center’s Center for Breast Care, mammograms are read locally. That means that you should get your results back quicker than a facility that sends them out. However, if you do not hear back within 10 days, we advise that you call your provider to find out the status. 

I have heard about 3D mammograms, what is that all about?

Firelands Regional Medical Center offers the latest advancement in digital breast imaging; breast tomosynthesis, better known as 3D mammography.

3D mammography is a revolutionary screening and diagnostic breast imaging tool to improve the early detection of breast cancer. This procedure complements standard 2D mammography and is performed simultaneously, using the same positions and compression. 3D mammography captures multiple slices of the breast to produce a clear, 3-dimensional reconstruction of the breast, allowing radiologists to review the breast tissue one layer at a time.

3D mammography takes a few seconds longer than 2D mammography and delivers a radiation dose well within the FDA-regulated limit for mammography.

What are the benefits of a 3D exam?

The many 3D mammography benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • Increase the detection of breast cancers
  • Decrease the number of women recalled for additional testing
  • More effectively pinpoint the size, shape, and location of abnormalities
  • Requires no additional compression compared to a traditional mammogram
  • Confidence and peace of mind in your results

How do I schedule a 3D exam?

Those in Huron, Norwalk, Sandusky, Fremont, and nearby who wish to schedule a 2D or 3D mammogram can call 419-557-7840. Please check with your insurance provider about coverage options for 3D mammography. Financial assistance is available by calling our Financial Counselors at 419-557-7879.

For more information on breast health please visit

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