Women getting her mammogram

Taking the Stress Out of Mammograms

Cancer Care, Women's Health
Mammogram: A word that makes many women feel uneasy. While most people know that mammograms are crucial for early detection of abnormalities in breast tissue some women who fear the unknown or who have had a bad experience in the past tend to delay routine exams. Many wonder: Will it hurt? Is it uncomfortable? How long does it last?

Don’t worry, Bayhealth’s Breast Care Coordinator Trisha Bentley, BSN, RN, has a few tips to make the process as smooth as possible.

1. Remember to speak up. “If you’re nervous, tell your technologist,” Bentley says. They are there to make sure you have a good experience and will try to keep any discomfort to a minimum.

2. Avoid wearing deodorant, lotions, powder or perfumes on your chest and underarms on the day of your exam. “Products like deodorant can contain small metallic particles that can leave artifacts on your pictures,” Bentley says. “Those particles can show up on your films and the radiologist may call you back for additional testing causing you undo alarm and anxiety.”

3. A mammogram only lasts about 10 minutes. A certified technologist will position the breast between two plastic imaging plates. Compression will be applied to spread out the tissue, allowing the machine to get the clearest image possible.

4. Try to relax. “Although having compression applied can be uncomfortable, tensing up in anticipation of pain can increase the discomfort.” Bentley says.

Mammograms can be nerve wracking, but they are essential for the early detection of breast cancer. Finding breast cancer early greatly increases the likelihood that it can be successfully treated and in most cases cured. Bayhealth provides free screenings for those who qualify.

Visit Bayhealth.org/Services/Cancer for more information.