Do Mammograms Hurt?
If you’re due for a mammogram, you may wonder if the test will hurt. Some women may experience discomfort, but it’s still very important to schedule these exams. In this blog, the board-certified radiologists at Neighborhood Radiology Associates in the greater New York City Metropolitan area explain more about mammograms and how to alleviate any discomfort you may feel:
What are mammograms used for?
A mammogram can help detect breast cancer, which means that treatment can be started, possibly before the disease has spread. The images created during a mammogram are used to detect normal and abnormal structures in the breast. The test can be used to screen for issues that have not yet been detected, such as cysts or tumors. It can also be used to help further investigate a potential issue that has already been found, such as a lump in your breast.
After you have your first mammogram, your doctor will be able to use this as a baseline result and compare your subsequent mammograms to this first image to detect any possible changes.
What happens during a mammogram?
A technician will place your breast between two plates – one to hold your breast in place, and one to take an image of your breast. This will be repeated for your other breast. From start to finish, a mammogram will take about 20 minutes.
Is there any pain or discomfort during a mammogram?
As long as the machine is in the right position, your back should be comfortable. Some women, but not all, may experience some discomfort when their breasts are compressed. You’re more likely to experience pain if you have cysts in your breasts (fibrocystic breasts).
How can you reduce pain or discomfort?
To reduce feelings of discomfort, take the following steps:
- Communicate any concerns: Let your technician known if you have cysts or if you have had an uncomfortable mammogram in the past.
- Time it right: If you can time your mammogram for about a week after your menstrual period, your breasts are likely to be less sensitive.
- Limit caffeine: Cut down on caffeine for about two weeks before your mammogram, since it can make your breasts more tender.
- Medication: Take an over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) about an hour before your exam to help alleviate pain.
- Try to relax: Take slow, deep breaths.
What will happen if they find something abnormal during the mammogram?
If something abnormal is spotted, you may need more tests. It may not necessarily be something to worry about, but it definitely warrants further investigation. You may be asked to undergo one or more of the following:
- Another mammogram
- Breast examination
- Blood tests
- Breast biopsy
If you’ve detected something unusual about your breasts recently or would like to have a routine mammogram, contact Neighborhood Radiology Services today. We provide the highest quality of imaging and have multiple offices conveniently located throughout the greater New York Metropolitan area.