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A mammogram is an x-ray of your breasts to screen for breast cancer.


Who should have a mammogram:

You should have a mammogram if you felt a lump or noticed other changes during a breast self-exam. Ask your primary healthcare provider when you should start having mammograms.

How to get ready for a mammogram:

  • Do not use deodorant, powder, lotion, or perfume. These products may cause particles to appear on your mammogram.
  • Wear a 2-piece outfit.
  • If you are breastfeeding, express as much milk as possible before the mammogram.
  • Bring a list of the dates and places of your past mammograms and other breast tests or treatments.
  • If your breasts are tender before your monthly period, do not have a mammogram during this time. Schedule your mammogram to be done 1 week after your period ends.

How a mammogram is done:

A top view and a side view x-ray are usually done for each breast. Tell caregivers if you have breast implants or breast problems before you have your mammogram. You may need extra x-rays of each breast.

  • You will be given a hospital gown. Take off your clothes from the waist up. Wear the hospital gown so that it opens in the front.
  • You will sit or stand next to a small x-ray machine. Caregivers will help you place one of your breasts on the x-ray plate. Your arm and breast will be moved until your breast is in the correct position.
  • Your breast will be gently pressed between 2 plastic plates for a few seconds while the x-ray is taken. This may be uncomfortable.
  • You will be asked to hold your breath while the x-ray is taken. Another x-ray will be taken of the same breast after the position of the x-ray machine has been changed.
  • Your other breast will be x-rayed the same way.

After your mammogram:

Your breasts may feel tender for a short while after the mammogram. You may resume your regular activities. Ask your primary healthcare provider when you should receive the results of your mammogram.

Risks of a mammogram:

You will be exposed to a small amount of radiation. Some breast cancers may not show up on mammograms.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • You cannot make your appointment on time.
  • You do not receive your results when expected.
  • You have questions or concerns about the mammogram.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Medical Disclaimer