2020-10-05T15:42:50-06:00October 14th, 2020|

Mammograms 101: Regional One Health experts share what to expect before, during and after your annual screening

Don’t let fear of the unknown keep you from getting your annual mammogram – our East Campus Imaging Center team makes it as stress-free as possible.

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, they’re educating women on what to expect before, during and after their test in order to remove the fear factor.

It’s easy to get your mammogram at the Imaging Center. They have readily-available appointments and walk-in availability, as well as quick turnaround on results and follow-up screening.

Most women know they should get annual screening mammograms starting at age 40. But for some, the fear of the unknown is hard to overcome.

The team at Regional One Health’s East Campus Imaging Center is here to help.

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, they’re reaching out to increase public awareness about what to expect before, during and after a mammogram.

“Two reasons women don’t get mammograms is they’re scared it’s going to hurt, and they’re worried about the results,” said Patty Novak, mammogram imaging tech. “We do everything we can to make the test comfortable and put them at ease. We promise we’ll take care of you!”

Before your test

A screening mammogram only takes 5-10 minutes. Mammogram tech Patty Novak has performed thousands of them, so she knows how to put patients at ease. “Most patients leave saying, ‘That didn’t hurt at all!'”

Screening mammograms are available at the Imaging Center with an appointment or on a walk-in basis, and wait times are minimal. In either case, you’ll check in at the Imaging Center on the ground floor and fill out a medical history form. Expect to provide the following information:

  • Personal or family history of breast cancer
  • Where any previous mammograms were done (our radiologists will want to compare your new test can to prior imaging)
  • Whether you have implants
  • Medications and allergies
  • Prior surgeries
  • Any symptoms or concerns you’re experiencing

Novak noted you do not need a provider’s order for a screening mammogram, just the name of the provider who should receive your results.

Next, you’ll head back to a females-only waiting area. When it’s time for your mammogram, you’ll undress from the waist up and put on a cloth poncho. You do not need to remove jewelry or piercings, but you will remove deodorant using wipes provided in the dressing area.

Novak said women who are concerned about discomfort can take ibuprofen or aspirin before the test. Avoiding caffeine, which can make the breasts more tender, can also help.

During your mammogram

Good news – Novak said a screening mammogram only takes 5 to 10 minutes. Your breasts are compressed between two plates from several angles, and the mammogram machine takes X-ray images that will be read by a breast imaging diagnostic radiologist.

Novak checks in with her patient throughout the test to make sure they are comfortable. Her experience as a mammogram tech – she’s literally given thousands – and the state-of-the-art 3-D mammography equipment used at the East Campus make the test more comfortable.

“Most patients leave saying, ‘That didn’t hurt at all!’” she said.

After your screening

The East Campus Imaging Center team provides quick turnaround and clear communication. “We know there’s a lot of anxiety,” diagnostic radiologist Dr. Muhammed Afzal said. “We talk to them and answer their questions to put their mind at ease.”

The Imaging Center team knows waiting for test results is stressful, so they are committed to fast turnaround and clear communication. All mammograms are read promptly by a board-certified diagnostic radiologist who specializes in breast imaging.

If your results are normal, you’ll get a letter in the mail. If the radiologist sees an area of concern, the imaging center staff will notify your primary care provider and call you within days of your test. They’ll help you set up an appointment for follow-up testing, like a diagnostic mammogram or breast ultrasound.

“We make it easy for patients,” Novak said. “We get the order for a diagnostic test and schedule the test for them. We get them in within days, so they don’t have to wait and worry.”

Patients get their results right after their follow-up screening. “We put ourselves in the patient’s shoes, and we know there’s a lot of anxiety,” diagnostic radiologist Dr. Muhammed Afzal said. “We talk to them and answer their questions to put their mind at ease.”

Most women who are called back don’t have cancer. Only 20-30 percent need a biopsy, and over 90 percent of biopsies come back negative for cancer.

Generally, patients can simply return to their regular screening schedule, although some may be asked to come back in six months. As a breast-trained radiologist, Dr. Afzal has specialized expertise reading mammograms and can offer clear guidance about screening results and needs.

Get started today!

The East Campus Imaging Center is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. for walk-ins and appointments. It is conveniently located at 6555 Quince Road, right off SR-385, and has ample free parking.

For an appointment or more information, call 901-515-3600.