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Mammography is an X-ray exam of breast tissue. The image produced is called a mammogram. A mammogram can help detect problems with your breasts, such as cysts or cancer. Mammography is currently the best breast cancer screening tool available.


Have screening mammograms and professional breast exams as often as your health care provider recommends. Also, be sure to do regular breast self-exams. 

How do I get ready for a mammogram? 

  • Schedule the test for one week after your period, when your breasts are less tender.

  • Make sure your clinic gets images of your last mammogram if it was done somewhere else. This lets the doctor compare the two sets of images for any changes that may have occurred since the previous mammogram..

  • On the morning of your test, wash your breasts and underarms, but don’t use deodorant, powder, or perfume.

  • Wear a top that you can remove easily.

Woman standing next to mammography machine. Health care provider is positioning woman's breast on machine.

What happens during a mammogram? 

  • You will need to undress from the waist up.

  • The technologist will position your breast to get the best test results.

  • Each of your breasts will be compressed, one at a time. This helps get the most complete X-ray image.

  • Your breasts will be repositioned to get at least two separate views of each breast.

What happens after a mammogram?

  • More X-rays are sometimes needed. You’ll be called to schedule them.

  • You should be notified of your test results in writing. Ask about this on the day of your appointment.

  • Have mammograms as often as your health care provider recommends. Also be sure to do regular breast self-exams.

Let the technologist know if:

  • You’re pregnant or think you may be.

  • You have breast implants.

  • You have any scars or moles on or near your breasts.

  • You’ve had a breast biopsy or surgery.

  • You’re breastfeeding.

Online Medical Reviewer: Fetterman, Anne, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Grossman, Neil, MD
Last Review Date: 6/2/2015
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