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Preparing For Your Mammogram

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in American women. In recent years, there has been a 37% reduction in female breast cancer incidence rates among women 50 and older. Death rates have been declining since the early 1990s, due in part to better screening and early detection, increased awareness, and improving treatment options.

The most common diagnostic tool for breast cancer screening and detection is the mammogram, a low-energy x-ray that provides a picture for radiologists, doctors that specialize in diagnosing and treating medical conditions using medical imaging procedures, to observe changes in patients breast tissue. Mammograms are performed to detect breast cancer in the early stages when the condition is more responsive to treatment and can show changes in breast tissue much sooner than patients or doctors can feel them.

For most women, current recommendations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the American Cancer Society, and the American Medical Association recommend a screening mammogram annually beginning at age 40. Research has shown that annual mammograms lead to early detection of changes in breast tissue when the condition is most treatable and the widest array of therapies is available to the patient.

Women with special circumstances, including those with a history of breast cancer or with an increased risk of breast cancer due to genetic factors, should discuss when to start screening and appropriate frequency intervals with medical professionals.

What to Expect from Your Mammogram

Mammograms are routine diagnostic screenings undertaken by millions of women each year. However, for patients undergoing mammograms it is normal to feel some level of anxiety throughout the procedure. Below is what you can expect during your mammography appointment.

The day of your mammogram you will undress from the waist up in a private dressing room and wear a hospital gown. During the examination, the technician will position your breast in a compression device designed to reduce the overall thickness of the breast to capture a clearer image and allowing for the lowest radiation dose possible. The period of time of compression lasts a few seconds and the device releases between exposures. Typically, two views of each breast are required.

Screening mammograms, performed on patients with no history of cancer, risk factors, or findings and symptoms (such as lumps, nipple discharge, pain), are verified for technical quality while the patient is in the clinic.

Diagnostic mammograms, for patients with more acute problems, are read by the radiologist before the patient leaves the clinic.

Preparing for Your Mammogram

The following can help your mammogram go as smoothly as possible:

  • Choose a facility that specializes in mammograms and performs them regularly.
  • Try to go to the same facility each time or have your records transferred prior to using a new facility for easy comparison of results over time.
  • If you’re going to a facility for the first time, bring a list of dates and facilities related to past mammograms, biopsies, and any other pertinent medical history.
  • Schedule your mammogram during a time when your breasts are not swollen or tender. It can be helpful to avoid undergoing the procedure the week before your monthly menstruation.
  • Don’t wear any deodorant or antiperspirant the day of the procedure. These may show up on the x-ray as white spots.
  • Wear pants or a skirt the day of the mammogram so you only need to remove your bra and shirt for the procedure.
  • Discuss any recent changes in your breasts with your health care provider before getting the mammogram.
  • Schedule 30-60 minutes for the procedure and make arrangements for your children during the exam. Children are not allowed in the examination room.
  • Your doctor will receive your results within a week of your examination. You will receive a letter describing the results of your examination within two weeks.
  • If you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant, please inform the technician before your exam.

Why Should You Choose Memorial Hospital for Your Mammogram?

Experienced Staff

Our radiologists are trained in specialized procedures such as injections of contrast agents or "dyes" into joints and the spinal canal, as well as performing needle biopsies and draining fluid collections in the body. They are also trained to perform SPG (Spheno-Palatine Ganglion) blocks for the treatment of migraines and other headaches.

Memorial Hospital's state-of-the-art Radiology Department is backed by our three Radiologists who are available to read films and perform minimal interventional radiology studies during the week. As full-time radiologists, they ensure all scans and routine x-rays are correctly read in a timely manner, getting the appropriate care to our patients as soon as possible. These physicians specialize in diagnosing and treating injuries and diseases using medical imaging.

Having radiologists working in the hospital helps to ensure our patients receive the most appropriate and timely treatment. Investments in specialized equipment and staff create the most comprehensive radiology department in east-central Wyoming.

A Regional Leader

Established in 1942 just outside Douglas, Memorial Hospital moved to its current location in 1983. The hospital took over management of the county’s ambulance service in 2006 and in 2008 opened state-of-the-art surgical suites, attracting surgeons from area hospitals.

The radiology department was remodeled in 2012 providing access to cutting-edge equipment and services to patients in Douglas County and beyond.

Memorial Hospital continues to strive for improvement and is resolute to reach its goal of becoming “The Best Healthcare Organization in Wyoming.”

Quality Care

Memorial Hospital of Converse County has been a pioneer in healthcare, and our state-of-the-art Radiology Department is no exception. Memorial Hospital is home to one of the most advanced radiology departments in Wyoming. The department offers Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Nuclear Medicine, 320-Slice CT, Ultrasound, and Full- Field Digital Mammography.