Health Blog

Mammograms: What to Know Before You Go

What do I need to know about mammograms?

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, but thanks to improved treatment and detection methods the survival rate has grown to over 90%. Mammograms should be performed every year once you are forty years old. Below is what you need to know before you go in for your screening.

What should I do to prepare for my appointment?

  • You will be asked to remove your shirt, so you may want to wear a skirt or pants and not a dress.
  • Do not wear deodorant or perfume. These often contain chemicals that can make the images unclear.
  • To reduce discomfort, schedule your mammogram at a time you know your breasts won’t be tender or swollen.

What should I expect at my appointment?

  • Your breasts will be x-rayed using a special machine specifically designed for mammograms. To get the clearest image possible your breasts will be compressed. This will likely cause some discomfort.
  • Appointments take about twenty minutes, but the actual mammogram is only a few seconds.
  • Let the technician know if you have been experiencing any breast changes or problems.
  • You will be contacted with the results of your mammogram within ten days. If you don’t receive a call back do not assume that your results were normal. Make sure to follow up with your doctor if they do not follow-up with you.

What if I don’t have health insurance?

The Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Navigation Program (BCCCNP) assists patients in paying for mammograms. BCCCNP has provided services for more than 5.2 million people since the start of the program. In 2015 alone, BCCCNP served 301,732 people.

What if other questions come up?

Please contact Jackie Demull, Women’s Cancer Screening Program Coordinator, at 616.965.8200 ext. 7099 or Zenaida Carcini, Clerical Assistant, at 616.965.8200 ext. 7373.

Amanda Avella
AmeriCorps Member at Cherry Street Health Center