Medical Imaging Tech Patty Novak has given thousands of mammograms at the Regional One Health East Campus Imaging Center.
It is the best tool she has to help patients catch and treat breast cancer early.
Her main advice is to get one every year. But, there’s more she wishes women knew about the test.
“It’s important to come back every year because your body changes,” Novak said. “Women can be scared to death the first time, but we make it as easy and comfortable for them as possible.”
Novak and Imaging Center Manager Susan Edwards offered tips to help put women’s minds at ease.
Take advantage of walk-in screenings
The Imaging Center does annual screening mammograms with no appointment and no doctor’s order. They take walk-ins from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Bring you ID and insurance card.
“We also need a physician’s name so there’s someone to help if something does show up,” said Edwards. “If you don’t have a doctor, we have a great group right across the hall.”
A word to the wise: the Imaging Center does diagnostic mammograms on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The quickest days for walk-in screening tests are Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Wait times are rarely over half an hour any day of the week.
Relax: the test is quick and easy
Novak said a mammogram takes less than five minutes. New technology regulates pressure to make it more comfortable.
The Imaging Center also has a females-only waiting room to put patients at ease.
Novak’s experience helps too.
She’s given mammograms to women with implants, piercings and small breasts – and to men. She said those factors don’t make the test more uncomfortable.
The only time not to get a routine screening mammogram is if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Women should wait until after they’ve given birth and for six months after stopping nursing.
Take steps to make it even easier
Novak had some tips to make the test as easy as possible:
- Don’t wear deodorant. There are wipes available, but it’s easier to wait to apply.
- Wear a two-piece outfit. You can just remove your top and slip on the gown.
- Don’t drink caffeine for 24 hours before. It can make breasts tender.
- Take ibuprofen or aspirin ahead of time to reduce the discomfort. Anti-anxiety medicine as prescribed by a doctor is also an option if needed.
- No need to remove jewelry or piercings. They don’t impact the screening at all.
You can even make it fun!
An annual mammogram doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Novak said some women even make a social occasion out of it. She loves the idea.
“It’s great,” she said. “I see friends come in together, sisters, even mother-daughter pairs. They get their test done, and they get a chance to catch up!”
Add a spa day or lunch out as a reward, and it makes staying on top of your health even better.