Finding and stopping the spread of cancer is now easier than ever before.

South Avenue Women’s Services offers mammograms in Rochester and WNY to detect the presence of cancerous cells in the breast. Once detected, certain procedures can be used to stop the cancer from spreading. In the past, mammograms have helped thousands of women detect and stop breast cancer with a simple and easy test. Let’s take a closer look at how mammograms work and how they help women avoid dealing with the consequences that come along with undetected breast cancer cells.

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that allows a doctor to see signs of breast cancer early. While there are some cases in which a doctor can feel problematic lumps in a woman’s breast during a clinical breast exam, mammograms at South Avenue Women’s Services can turn up signs of lumps too small to be detected during a regular exam.

How is a mammogram performed?

During a mammogram, a doctor or nurse will ask you to remove your shirt and bra and place a wrap on you. From there, you will be asked to stand in front of an X-ray machine used specifically for mammograms. One of your breasts will be placed on a plastic platform, and an X-ray technician will lower a second plastic plate down onto your breast and flatten it out. Doing this will help to spread out the tissue in your breast while an X-ray is taken. Once this is done, the technician will then repeat the process with your other breast.

In some cases, the process of pressing your breasts down in between the plastic can be uncomfortable and potentially even painful for a few seconds. You may experience some soreness in the aftermath of a mammogram. However, mammograms typically only take about 15 minutes and are relatively painless for most women. You will meet with your doctor at South Avenue Women’s Services once a mammogram is finished to go over the results.

How often should you get a mammogram?

The frequency of your mammograms often depends upon a variety of factors, including your age and your medical history. In general, all women over the age of 40 should have mammograms once every year. Regular screenings help your doctor to detect the presence of cancer cells in your breasts.

If breast cancer is something that runs in your family, or if you have had cysts in your breasts in the past, it is recommended you have mammograms prior to turning 40. You should speak with your doctor about your medical history and see if he or she would recommend you start having mammograms earlier.

Things to know before you get a mammogram?

There are a few things you should know before having mammograms done. The first is you may experience some soreness in your breasts after having a mammogram. To reduce the chances of experiencing any pain, it is a good idea to schedule your mammogram for a time right after your period when your breasts are less likely to be sensitive.

When you are preparing to have a mammogram done, you should avoid wearing deodorant, perfume, or any kind of powder since these things could potentially make your X-ray unclear. You should also always tell your doctor if you have breast implants since they could affect the X-rays taken of your breasts. Additionally, you should not typically have mammograms done when you are pregnant, so be sure to let your doctor know if that is the case.

What if mammogram results are abnormal?

If your mammogram results turn out to be abnormal, you should speak with your doctor about what steps to take next. In some cases, the doctor may order another mammogram to confirm any suspicions he or she might have about the presence of cancerous cells. The doctor may also recommend further treatment for your condition. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and biological therapy are all options used to treat breast cancer.

You should also know that abnormal mammogram results are not always an indication of cancer. A doctor from South Avenue Women’s Services can speak with you further about your results once they are available.

If you are interested in having a mammogram done, or if you want to ask a medical practitioner more questions about what mammograms are and how they work, contact South Avenue Women’s Services at 585-271-3850.