Betty Torricelli Institute for Breast Care
Preparing for Your Diagnostic Mammogram
Choose a certified mammogram facility. Ask whether the mammogram facility is certified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This certification will ensure that the facility meets certain standards.
Schedule the test for a time when your breasts are least likely to be tender. If you haven’t gone through menopause, that’s usually during the week after your menstrual period. Your breasts are most likely to be tender the week before and the week during your period.
Bring your prior mammogram images. If you’re going to a new facility for your mammogram, request to have any prior mammograms placed on a CD. Bring the CD and all reports with you to your appointment so that the radiologist can compare past mammograms with your new images. If you have had a prior biopsy, also bring those results.
Don’t use deodorant before your mammogram. Avoid using deodorants, antiperspirants, powders, lotions, creams, or perfumes under your arms or on your breasts. Metallic particles in powders and deodorants could be visible on your mammogram and cause undue alarm or confusion. You want to avoid undergoing additional testing or possibly losing the opportunity to have a breast cancer detected early.
You might find it easier to wear a two-piece outfit. That way you’ll only have to remove your top and bra (note that you’ll be given a robe or hospital gown to wear).
Leave any neck jewelry at home. Anything around the neck will interfere with obtaining clear X-ray images of your breasts. Do not risk having neck jewelry lost or stolen because you have to remove it.
Eat and drink before having a mammogram.
Consider reducing your intake of caffeinated beverages and chocolate 3 to 4 days before your scheduled appointment. Caffeine may make breast tissue more tender.
Consider an over-the-counter pain medication if you find that having a mammogram is uncomfortable. Taking an over-the-counter acetaminophen (Tylenol ) about an hour before your mammogram might ease the discomfort of the test. Check with your doctor before taking any new medications.
Bring your doctor’s written order/prescription for the mammogram study.
Bring your ID and insurance information. You must check in before the mammogram is performed. The process involves confirming your identity and your insurance information. You will sign some papers as well.
Tell the radiology technologist about any physical limitations. The mammogram will take about 30 minutes. You will need to stand and change positions during this time. The technologist will work around any physical limitations.
- You will stand in front of the X- ray machine. The technologist will place the breast on a platform which is adjusted to match your height. Proper positioning of your arms, torso, and head is key to obtaining high-quality X-ray images. Finally, a clear plastic plate will gradually compress the breast. Once the breast is properly compressed, you will need to stand still and hold your breath. This process will be repeated on the other breast.
- Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns about pain that may occur when your breasts are compressed during a mammogram. Just ask the technologist to proceed slowly and let them know the instant you begin to feel any discomfort.
Describe any breast problems or symptoms to the technologist performing the exam.
Continue to take any prescribed medications on the day of your mammogram, unless your physician instructs you otherwise. If you are going to have a biopsy and are taking blood thinners, please discuss whether it is safe to discontinue blood thinners with your doctor before the biopsy. Tell the technologist conducting the mammogram about any medications you are taking, including the dosage.
Hackensack University Medical Center
20 Prospect Avenue
Hackensack, NJ 07601
Diagnostic mammography, ultrasound, and other diagnostic testing are available Monday through Friday at our main campus at 20 Prospect Avenue, Hackensack, New Jersey. To schedule an appointment: