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Mammogram FAQs You May Be Too Nervous to Ask

Many younger women having their first few mammograms are undoubtedly nervous. This is a new and somewhat scary test. Even women who are so-called “veterans” of mammogram screenings can find themselves with new questions or concerns. Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions of your doctor or the radiologist about an upcoming test. Here are a few answers to mammogram FAQs you may be too nervous to ask.

What Newbies Might Ask:

How much will it hurt?

You may feel a pinching described by most women as uncomfortable for mere seconds, but a mammogram does not hurt and is not meant to hurt. Your breasts are squeezed together by two plates to flatten them so the X-ray can get a better image. You will feel the pressure, but it shouldn’t hurt.

Woman getting a mammogram

Why do I need a mammogram at age 40?

It has been found that the risks for cancer begin to increase at age 40. If you are of average risk for breast cancer, begin mammograms at age 40. One in six breast cancers occur between 40 and 49, and these women were not even considered high risk patients.

If you feel a lump or some other abnormality, don’t wait. Contact your OBGYN at Women’s Care of Alaska and request a mammogram in Anchorage.

Do I need to undress completely?

No, you only undress from the waist up and even then you are wearing a hospital gown open in the front. As each breast is X-rayed, the technologist will open the gown to reveal the breast and place it gently in place.

How often am I going to need mammograms?

It has been found that annual mammograms are best for finding and treating breast cancers.

Research shows that regular annual breast screening mammograms cut breast cancer deaths by a third of all women 40 years and older. This is especially important for women with higher risks.

Having annual mammograms increases the ability for Women’s Care of Alaska to catch cancer at its earliest stage when it is easiest to treat.

Other Questions:

Women who have had multiple mammograms may still have questions they never asked.

Are my dense breasts a problem?

A woman with dense breasts can be a bit more difficult to evaluate with a standard mammogram. In this case your doctor may recommend you have a 3D test called a tomosynthesis. This is a new form of digital mammography in which images are taken from many angles. A computer will reconstruct them into a 3D image of your breast. Many women with dense breasts may find this beneficial. 3D mammograms find 15 to 30% more breast cancers and up to 40% fewer false positives. Ask your physician if a 3D test will benefit you.

When can I stop having mammograms?

Some recent information says that women who are 74 can stop having mammograms. Many doctors believe you should continue to have them over 75 if you are in good health and still have another decade of life expectancy.

How worried should I be if called back for another test?

Fewer than 1 in 10 women called back for another screening have breast cancer. It is usually from a cyst, calcifications, or dense breast tissue.

Schedule Your Mammogram Today

Contact Women’s Care of Alaska at (907) 279-2273 if you are due for your annual mammogram or if you have additional questions.