Getting a Mammogram

Category Advice
Mammograms are very important in early detection of breast cancer. Regular mammograms should be scheduled for any woman over 40 so that treatment can be started as soon as possible.


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September 18, 2008

To ease the pain during your mammogram, apply over-the-counter lidocaine on breasts before the exam. It works better than aspirin or any other pain reliever.

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October 25, 2004

Here is a tip from the heart and from a recent experience.

Being a retired registered nurse I realize the importance of having (among other things) a yearly mammogram. Every year I have one. Well my last one showed some calcified density changes. I was told that this could be because of age changes but to be on the safe side that I should have another one in 6 months. And so in 6 months I had another mammogram which showed that the calcifications had increased and clustered. I then spoke to the radiologist who suggested that I should have a breast biopsy as 80% of the time the changes are age related but 20% of the time it is breast cancer.


I then immediately had a consultation with a breast surgeon. She explained what the biopsy would entail and answered the few questions I had, few I say as I was so stunned that I really didn't have much time at that moment to think about many questions. I think I was in shock.

Arrangements were made to have the biopsy and the report came back showing that I had DCIS. That stands for ductile carcinoma in situ and means that the cancer was confined to the breast ducts and was non-invasive. As my surgeon said to me, "if you're going to have breast cancer, this is the type to have as it's treatable and curable". I then went to surgery and had a lumpectomy and the results came back showing the the margins were not clear. Clear margins are necessary to have a curable area. And so I had to go back to surgery and have a re-excision of the same surgical procedure and yes, my margins came back clear.

After a few weeks of healing I had to go to radiation 5 days a week for 7 weeks and I started taking tamoxifen which I will continue taking for a total of 5 years. I am very thankful that I had a knowledgeable radiologist, a great breast surgeon and oncologist as well as a great team in the radiation department. I had always done a monthly manual exam of my breasts, had a yearly manual exam by my physician and a yearly mammogram. My breast surgeon told me that since the tumor was so small that it would probably take about 5 more years to feel it if I had not been fortunate to have the mammogram pick it up. By then it may have become invasive and I would not have been so lucky.

Yesterday I went for my follow up to my breast surgeon and got a clean bill of health. I no longer have breast cancer and am a survivor but only because of being disciplined to have a yearly mammogram and because the results of the mammogram were implemented.

Please, please, please I encourage each and every one of you females to make sure you treat yourself well and have a mammogram each and every year. It will not only be a gift to you but to your family. Men also can and do get breast cancer but percentage wise less than women.

I hope this information that I have shared with you will help you all and this is my gift to you today.

By joesgirl

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March 6, 2009

I am having my first mammogram tomorrow morning. Any tips on what do before. I hear you can shower but no deodorant or perfume. Why is that? I am kind of nervous but I am 41 and I need to take care of myself and make sure all is good to go.




March 6, 20090 found this helpful

There's no need to worry about pain. It's not a position you'd want to be in all day but it's not bad. You won't need pain med. at all. It doesn't take long. Some people like to put the fear into you but don't listen.

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March 7, 20090 found this helpful

The deodorant or perfume will show up on the x-ray film.

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March 7, 20090 found this helpful

I've had several, and it's nothing to worry about at all. It goes very quickly and I have big 'bazzooms' (; and there was never what I would call any pain. Just congratulate yourself for keeping up on your health. After having my young, wonderful boss die at age 39 from breast cancer that was detected too late, I would encourage every woman to PLEASE keep up on these things.


Its not a bad idea to schedule yearly routine exams, pap smears, and mammograms around your birthday. That way it's pretty easy to remember. I wish you the very best of health!

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March 8, 20090 found this helpful

I had mine done just last year, and it was agonizing for me. Not only did it hurt my shoulders (I have fibromyalgia), but my breasts hurt for a week afterward.

Maybe it's because I was slim, and don't have large breasts. And it wasn't just me, either; Mom had hers done by another exam clinic, and the pain was so bad that they had to abort the test.

Me, I'm only going to get mine done every 5 years, as they do in Europe. There's increasing evidence (being shouted down by the AMA of course) that breast tissue absorbs and retains mammogram radiation. Meaning, it's not safe to have them done every year. Even my gynocologist got breast cancer!

People get so wrapped up in mammograms that they forget another very important part of breast health: Breast self-exams. Don't just ignore your breasts between mammograms, because many times it's women themselves who discover lumps, themselves.

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March 10, 20090 found this helpful

Relax, nothing to them. I have had several -- whole procedure takes about 15 minutes, most of which is chatting with the technician about medical history. One of the best women who has taken the mammogram for me keeps chatting about the weather, movies, etc, and this takes your mind off things. I wouldn't say there is pain -- discomfort certainly-- but less than stubbng your toe or bumping your elbow on something.

I have never been told about the perfume or deodorant, so I wouldn't worry about that, unless you are given those instructions.

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March 10, 20090 found this helpful

And lets not forget, ladies, that heart disease kills ten times more women than cancer does! Worry more about what is likely to kill you than what you are afraid will kill you!

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March 10, 20090 found this helpful

I don't know about perfume, but most deodorants have aluminum oxide in them, which is a metal, and that messes up the film. Causes a fuzzy view or flashes of light that could even be misdiagnosed. I read something about it some years ago. So, perfume may have something in it that also may cause problems with the pictures.

It has also been determined that that same aluminum oxide may also cause cancer.

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March 10, 20090 found this helpful

PS. The aluminum chlorohydrate in deodorants does not ever cause cancer - that's one of the oldest urban legends and because we don't yet have a cancer cure, it persists.

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March 10, 20090 found this helpful

I am 47 and I have had an annual mammogram for 16 years. The little bit of discomfort is so much more tolerable than treatment for breast cancer. If you have lost a mother/grandmother/sister you should start having mammograms 10 years before the age of the family member was diagnosed. Say my mother was diagnosed at 38 so I should have started at 28. You should be so proud of yourself for making sure you are healthy. I never want my son to lose his mother to breast cancer as I did.

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March 12, 20090 found this helpful

Hi, Rose, The best tip I can suggest is to take your regular pain med (Tylenol, Advil, Aleve) an hour before your appointment. The best of these would be an anti-inflammatory like Advil or Aleve. Good luck, Nancy in NC

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March 15, 20090 found this helpful

Lynn's right, heart disease is the #1 killer of women, so please don't forget to discuss your risks with your doctor.

There was a lump on my aunt's breast; it was removed, and she was fine. She developed heart disease, and that's what killed her.

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July 29, 20130 found this helpful

Hi! I have the same question. I am 17 years old and my right breast is swollen with lumps that cause pain to the touch. My pediatrician immediately scheduled a mammogram this Friday. I'm super nervous. If I am already sensitive from my lumps with just a touch, how can I lessen the pain during the testing?

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August 16, 20190 found this helpful

The film from the deodorant and perfume can show up as a white film.

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March 6, 2009

I am due up for my first mammogram and I am dreading it. Anyone have any tips for overcoming the fear and pain involved? Can you take pain medicine before hand? Do they keep you in the vise grip for long? How long does the procedure last? Any tips will be much appreciated.

Amy from USA


First Mammogram Tips

Relax it is not as bad as you are anticipating. They only keep you in the grip hold long enough to take the needed pictures. Only 30 - 45 seconds per picture. They take 4 pictures total unless one does not come out clear they will take and extra one. You do not need any pain meds. The total time it takes is about 15 minutes from set up to finish. Then they read the x-rays and tell you the results. I have had 2 in the last 9 months and have had no problems with them.


By Debra

First Mammogram Tips

I, too, had my 1st mammogram a year ago and I had the same concerns since I am a large-breasted woman. I am also an X-ray Technologist (not the ones who do the mammograms) so I had the rudiments of training during my own schooling. I must tell you that it wasn't nearly as bad as I had built it up in my mind.

Here are some important concepts to keep in mind.

  1. Maximum compression is extremely necessary. If the tissue is not compressed enough important pathology could be missed. Just remind yourself that this must be done to make sure you have healthy breasts.
  2. While the compression does keep you very still be sure that when the Tech tells you to hold your breath and not move that you don't breath, move or squirm. Motion on an x-ray is like taking a picture of a moving object. It's blurry and you can't see fine details. Cancer can be extremely small (and that means potentially more curable if it's found at that time). Our Radiologists, and I'm sure those everywhere, use a large magnifying glass to examine the x-rays. That's how tiny cancer can be.
  3. Be sure not to use deodorant or powder on the breast or armpit areas on the day of your exam. If you're going after work you can use it and they should supply you with towelettes in the changing area to wipe any off with. Or do what I did and actually bring a washcloth and step into the restroom to give yourself a thorough cleaning. Powder/Deodorant residue will show up on an x-ray and can look like pathology.
  4. If you don't get your results the day of your exam don't be surprised if you get a "call-back" for further pictures. My technologist told me about this and still I mentally freaked out when I got the call. The reason for this is because mammogram films are always compared to previous films if they are available. If something is suspicious on a 1st mammogram they have no other films to compare to. In my case it was a pea-sized cyst. They were very certain that's all it was but they had me come back, put me in compression and then ultra-sounded the area to be sure. Even this second time being compressed was not at all bad.

Hope this helps you. Best of luck. (09/18/2006)

By Sheryl

First Mammogram Tips

I am 54 years old have been having these things since i was around 36. When they first started them I have to admit they hurt. Advances in the machine has changed all that. They have what is called a soft mammogram and it doesn't hurt at all. The little discomfort you will feel is well worth the knowledge that you don't have cancer, believe me. Good luck, stay calm. God bless you. (09/19/2006)

By Madeline

First Mammogram Tips

I had my second one this week and it wasn't bad. They had a "soft pad" so there was no exposure to a cold machine. I am overweight and they had to put a sticker on the nipples this time but they are no problem to pull off after the x-rays. Just relax and it'll be over before you know it. (09/19/2006)

By hwalz.

First Mammogram Tips

I will soon be 65 so I have had many mammograms. I have had some that did not hurt at all. The ones that did 'hurt', the pain lasted just a few seconds, and you forget it, like you forget labor pains. I am in a motorized chair, and with my last mammogram, the technician was able to lower the machine so I did not have to get out of my chair. It is hard for me to stand for more than a few seconds, so this was a big help to me. (09/20/2006)

By Linda from Illinois

First Mammogram Tips

I didn't know it was supposed to be painful and I didn't have any trouble with it. If you expect to have pain, you may have it. (10/24/2006)

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