Published on June 02, 2021

What To Expect with A Routine Mammogram

With such a high statistical significance of annual breast cancer diagnoses, many people have been impacted by breast cancer in some way.

What is a mammogram?

  • A mammogram is a low dose X-ray used to screen for breast cancer.
  • The mammography machine has two plates that compress the breast tissue, allowing images to be made of the breasts.
  • These pictures are then reviewed by a radiologist to look for changes in the tissue that may be concerning for cancer.


When should women or men get their first mammogram?

For a woman with average risk of developing breast cancer, annual mammogram screening should begin at age 40. Those considered high risk for developing breast cancer may have to start this screening process earlier.

Some factors that may make a person high risk would be...

  • a family history of breast cancer
  • personal history of certain types of cancers
  • genetic markers such as BRCA 1 or BRCA 2
  • smoking
  • alcohol abuse
  • obesity

Each person should discuss her personal screening plan with a primary care provider or obstetrician/gynecologist since these factors should be considered in an individualized care plan.

When developing a care plan with your provider, it is also important to remember to perform a monthly breast-self exam and make your provider aware if you notice any changes.

Does it hurt?

Many patients have voiced concern about the level of discomfort with this test and the risk of radiation exposure.

North Mississippi Medical Center’s mammogram technicians are all well experienced and perform multiple mammograms daily. They are trained to help position each patient in a way that allows for minimal pain while ensuring that they obtain appropriate and high-quality images for the radiologist to interpret.

The amount of radiation exposure is very minimal. We are all exposed to small, daily amounts of environmental or natural radiation. The amount that someone would be exposed to in one mammogram is the equivalent to around seven weeks of natural exposure. The benefit of screening far outweighs the risk of exposure.


What do you want people who may be considering a mammogram to know?

With such a high statistical significance of annual breast cancer diagnoses, many people have been impacted by breast cancer in some way. Your encounter with this may be from your own diagnosis or supporting a friend or loved one who has been diagnosed.

My mother-in-law is currently in the middle of her second battle with breast cancer. If she had not been diligent with her personal screenings, we may not have her with us today. I am thankful for access to mammography screening and for the continued improvement in breast cancer treatment.

Today, I encourage you to take advantage of this access by making sure that you speak with your provider about your screening plan.

Please also encourage your friends and family to do so as well.