Mammography is an x-ray of the breast that uses low doses of radiation. The picture made during mammography is called a mammogram. It can help find both cancerous (malignant) and non-cancerous (benign) tumours in the breast.
How the test is performed. The technologist will position your breasts one at a time on the mammogram machine, which will briefly compress the breast between two plates. The compression keeps your breast from moving, and makes the layer of breast tissue thinner. These steps reduce the radiation exposure and make the picture sharper.
How to prepare for the test. On the day of the mammogram, don’t wear deodorant, talcum power or perfume as they may contain substances that can show up on the image as white spots. Try to avoid scheduling your mammogram in the week before your period.
How the test will feel. Although the compression can feel uncomfortable for some women, it only lasts a few seconds and is needed to get a good picture. Talk to the technologist if you have pain. She can reposition you to make the compression as comfortable as possible. The entire mammogram takes about 8 minutes, not including time spent filling out paperwork and changing.