We are all aware of the signs of breast cancer and thanks to some high profile advertising campaigns most of us have a pretty good idea of spotting when things aren’t quite right. It is easy to panic if you find a lump or bump on or around your breast, however it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should immediately expect the worst.
Don’t waste time worrying
It is totally understandable to feel scared, so the best thing to do is speak to a Private Breast Consultant as soon as possible to arrange a mammogram. Whilst it is certainly true that addressing medical issues as soon as they arise can prevent them from getting any worse, the other huge benefit of arranging to be scanned is to set your mind at ease. The beauty of going through a private consultant is that there won’t be a waiting list for an appointment, hence cutting out the time spent worrying about it.
Make life easy for yourself
Once you have arranged your mammogram, there are a few things that you can do to help make the mammogram process as comfortable as possible. Whilst the procedure isn’t overly painful, some women can find it a bit uncomfortable, especially if they are feeling a little anxious and tense about the results.
Firstly, cut out any caffeine from your diet for a couple of days prior to your appointment, this will reduce sensitivity during the test, as caffeine can increase the tenderness of breast tissue. Another way of ensuring minimal discomfort during the procedure is to schedule your appointment for a week after your period has finished so your breasts aren’t quite as sensitive.
On the day of your appointment, you may feel more comfortable wearing a top with trousers or a skirt rather than a dress so you only have to remove your top half. Although you are likely to wear a hospital gown for the actual mammogram, you will feel more comfortable if you aren’t totally exposed underneath. It is also advisable to avoid wearing deodorant or body spray, as some products contain metallic elements that could affect the equipment and possibly create an inconclusive or incorrect result. A couple of hours before your appointment you may want to consider taking some ibuprofen or another form of anti-inflammatory pain relief to reduce the tenderness in your breasts both during and after the examination.
What to expect on the day
When the day of your appointment arrives, try not to worry, a mammogram is a routine scanning process that all women will experience at some point. Here are a couple of things to remember to help make the appointment run as smoothly as possible:
- When you go into your appointment make sure that you have any records or films from any mammograms that you may have had previously. This helps the consultant enormously as they can immediately see any changes that may have occurred.
- Be sure to tell your consultant about any symptoms you have experienced, such as any discharge or pain, no matter how insignificant you think they may be. If it helps, write down notes before the appointment so that you don’t forget on the day.
After a thorough consultation with your GP or Consultant, you will go through for the mammogram. A mammogram is a type of scanning machine, specifically designed to examine the breasts by means of X-ray. There are two plates attached to the machine, the top one is an adjustable plastic plate and the bottom one is a fixed X-ray plate. The breast is compressed between these two plates to make the layer of breast tissue thinner, which means that the X-ray exposure can be reduced and the picture will be sharper. Whilst the procedure is naturally going to be a little uncomfortable, speak up if you are in pain as a slight repositioning of the breast can make it feel more comfortable.
You don’t have to be showing any unusual symptoms to request a mammogram, and the service is available privately to any woman over 40. More often than not, lumps and bumps in the breasts are perfectly fine and nothing to worry about. It only takes around twenty minutes to have a mammogram, which is time well spent if it puts your mind at rest.