How To Prepare For Your Next Mammogram

If it’s time to make an appointment for a mammogram, here are some tips before you go.

Mammograms are the premier tool for detecting breast cancer as early as possible. But some women avoid getting mammograms because they’re afraid of how the test will feel. When you know what to expect and how to prepare, you’ll find that getting a mammogram is an easy way to take care of your health.

Here’s how to prepare for your next mammogram:

• Know the screening guidelines. Although different organizations offer different recommendations about when women should begin breast cancer screenings and how often they should get them, Sidney Health Center follows the American College of Radiology recommendation that starting at age 40 women should have annual screening mammograms and a yearly check-up by a doctor that includes a breast exam. It’s best to talk to your doctor or advanced practice provider about what’s right for you.

• Choose a facility. If possible, go to a facility that specializes in mammograms. Sidney Health Center offers 3D mammography which consists of multiple breast images taken in just seconds to produce a 3D image. Sidney Health Center is also American College of Radiology (ACR) accredited in Mammography, Breast MRI and Breast Ultrasound.

• Schedule your appointment. Once you’ve decided where to go, it’s time to make an appointment. Select a date and time that’s convenient for you but try to avoid the week before your period, when your breasts are more likely to be tender or swollen. Also let the scheduler know if you have breast implants as those appointments be slightly longer.

• Bring previous records. If you’ve had breast screenings done at other facilities, bring prior images and reports with you or arrange to have them sent to the new facility so they can be used as a basis for comparison. This should include mammograms, biopsies and any other screenings or breast procedures performed.

• Follow instructions. Most facilities will give you instructions for what to do when you come for your mammogram. The only thing you need to do on the day of the exam is to not use any deodorant, antiperspirant, perfume, lotion, cream or powder on your breasts or under your arms. In addition, you may consider taking an over-the-counter oral pain reliever one hour prior to your screening to help with discomfort.

• Inform the technician. Let the person doing the test know about any areas of concern and any breast changes you’ve noticed. Let them know if you have breast implants, are breastfeeding or think you might be pregnant. Ask any questions you may have before the test begins.

• Relax. Some people dread getting mammograms because they feel they are uncomfortable, but remind yourself that it’s only a few minutes of discomfort that can potentially save your life (breast compressions only last 10 to 15 seconds per image). The more you relax and think positive thoughts, the less bothered you will be by the test.

• Congratulate yourself. Getting routine mammograms is an important step in maintaining your breast health. Be proud of yourself for taking that step.

The Sidney Health Center mammography team offers mammography services five days a week and extended hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday starting at 7:30 a.m. If you are 40 years or older, you can schedule a screening mammogram without a referral by calling the Sidney Health Center outpatient coordinator at 406-488-2195.

To learn more about the Breast Health Imaging Services offered at Sidney Health Center, visit our website at

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