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Mammography FAQs

What are the benefits of screening mammography?

Today’s high-quality screening mammography is the most effective tool available to physicians in detecting breast cancer before lumps can be felt or cancer symptoms appear. Early detection of breast cancer not only helps provide you with more options, but also increases the possibility of a favorable prognosis.

Is there a risk of radiation exposure from having regular mammograms?

The risk of harm from radiation exposure is extremely small, and the risk decreases significantly as a woman ages. The actual exposure of radiation during a mammogram is about equivalent to that of having a dental exam. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates that mammograms not exceed 2 rads (radiation absorbed dose), the unit of measure for radiation exposure. Most mammograms actually deliver a small fraction of that amount, so you must carefully weigh the risks of not having mammograms against this small radiation exposure.

What should a woman expect when having a mammogram?

You should avoid using deodorant and lotions on the day of your mammogram. You might find it easier if you wear a two-piece outfit as you will be asked to change from your blouse into a gown. A specially trained radiological technologist, who will perform the X-ray, will ask you to stand next to the X-ray machine. Two flat surfaces, or plates, are lowered and then compress each breast for a few seconds. This compression is necessary to produce the best pictures using the lowest amount of radiation possible.

Are mammograms painful?

Some women find the pressure of the plates on their breasts to be uncomfortable or even somewhat painful. Timing your mammogram when your breasts are not tender is important. In premenopausal women, this is usually one week after your menstrual period. If you do experience discomfort or pain, remember that each X-ray takes just a few moments and could save your life.

Who pays for mammography?

Medicare covers mammograms for women 65 and older every year. Most states now require that health insurance policies offer mammography screening reimbursement. In addition, Woman’s provides 100 free mammograms each month to underserved women in the community. For more information, call us at 225-924-8391.