What to Expect at Your First Mammogram

By Trinity Flowers

Scheduling your first mammogram can be a little intimidating. We’ve all heard the horror stories of what a mammogram can feel like. Let’s face it; no one is excited to schedule an appointment when they've heard, "Your boobs are flattened like pancakes."

The good news is that many of the horror stories you hear aren’t always accurate. While there is pressure applied, it isn’t as painful as you may think. After their first mammogram, most women state, "if I knew how easy that was, I would have done it sooner!"

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is an x-ray that helps to detect cancer in its earliest stages - before patients begin experiencing symptoms - when it is most treatable. 

What is a 3D mammogram?

A 3D mammogram stacks up multiple x-rays to create a three-dimensional picture of the breast. It can help detect breast cancer up to 15 months before traditional (2D) mammograms. It can also reduce the number of false-positive results.  Typical mammograms include 2D and 3D images of your breasts to better help the radiologist see the inside tissue.

What to expect during your mammogram:

Before arriving, make sure to avoid applying deodorant, lotions, oils, or perfumes as they can be seen on the mammogram (some have metallic fragments). When you arrive in the screening room, you will be given a gown and be asked to undress from the waist up. Wearing a two-piece outfit will help maintain your modesty/privacy.

The mammography technologist will place your breast on what looks like a shelf.  A plastic plate above your breast will be lowered slowly to apply pressure and even out your breast tissue.  The pressure is tight, but not typically painful. Your breast will be held in this position for about 5 seconds while the x-ray is taken and then the plate will release. There are typically 2 views taken of each breast at different angles. Sometimes extra images are taken if your breasts are larger than the film area or if a better image is needed.

The Results

Hillsboro Area Hospital partners with Clinical Radiologists of Springfield, IL to obtain the reading for your mammogram; click here to learn more. Clinical Radiologists are one of the largest radiology groups in the nation, allowing them to specialize in specific areas.  All of our mammograms are read by a radiologist with specialized training in mammography. If you are asked to return to the screening center, don’t fret! According to Bright Pink, 1 out of 2 women who received a mammogram was called back for additional imaging/ultrasound. Of those women, 93% did NOT have cancer. 


Ready to schedule your mammogram? Call Hillsboro Area Hospital at 217-532-4196 today


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