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Q: What should I expect at my first mammogram?

A: A screening mammogram is a low dose X-ray exam that takes images of the breast to detect breast cancer early. Mammograms have been shown in numerous studies to save lives. Most women should get their first annual mammogram beginning at age 40 and a doctor’s order is no longer required to schedule the screening.

Upon arrival, you will be provided with a comfortable robe, and asked to undress from the waist up. Avoid deodorant, lotions, or perfumes on the day of your screening, as these can interfere with the interpretation of the images.

During the mammogram, your technologist will talk you through the procedure and position your breasts one at a time in between imaging plates. Pressure is required to achieve the clearest images possible, but
each image only takes 2-4 seconds. If you experience discomfort, please inform your technologist and they can adjust the pressure. Consider scheduling your mammogram during the second week of your
menstrual cycle (one week after your period) to help avoid tenderness.

Once the mammogram is complete, a dedicated Hoag breast radiologist will interpret the results, typically the next business day. Soon after, the report will be available in the electronic medical record system or
as a mailed letter.

Hoag’s team of fellowship trained breast radiologists and convenient breast imaging locations across Orange County are ready to help you achieve optimal breast health.

By January Lopez, M.D.