Ask the Expert: Mammograms

This educational post is sponsored by Ochsner Hancock. Gulf Coast Moms Blog is thankful to have wonderful healthcare providers on the Gulf Coast to help our families live healthy lives.

Ask the Expert: Mammograms

What is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray of the breast. Mammography is used for routine screening for breast cancer. It’s also used for diagnostic purposes.

While you’re in a standing position, a technologist positions your breast on a small plate. Then, a clear plate presses down on the breast while the images are taken. The procedure is repeated for the other breast.

When Should I Get a Mammogram?

The American College of Radiology recommends women start getting annual mammograms at age 40. Mammography is the only test that has been shown in multiple studies to provide early diagnosis of breast cancer that saves lives. If someone is at a higher risk of developing breast cancer, they will be advised to start screening earlier or more frequently. This may be the case if there is a strong family history of cancer or due to certain genetic mutations, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Types of Mammograms

  • 2D Mammography: Digital mammography, or 2-D mammography, is the norm. For 2-D mammography, multiple X-rays are put together to produce two-dimensional images of the breast.
  • 3D Mammography: Three-dimensional mammography, also known as digital breast tomosynthesis, is the latest mammogram technology being used for breast cancer screening. A 3D scan takes a series of x-rays of the breast from different angles and then creates a 3-dimensional image of the breast. Women with dense breast tissue are likely to benefit the most. This 3D mammography technology is offered at Ochsner Hancock. 

As far as the procedure goes, your breast will be positioned and compressed the same way for 2D or 3D.

It’s safe to have either type of mammogram if you have implants, but it’s important that you inform your doctor and the technician that you have them.

A radiologist reads both types and sends a report to your doctor.  

Women age 40 and older should have an annual mammogram, regardless of whether it’s 2D or 3D.

What You Need to Know Before Your First Mammogram:

Kerry, the radiology specialist at Ochsner Hancock, had some great advice for those prepping for their first mammogram.

She has worked in radiology for over 20 years and knows first-hand the advancements of technology. She stated, “It’s not your grandmother’s mammogram!” so there is no need to be anxious about the procedure itself. Technology now makes the process so much quicker, with less discomfort.

Advice from Radiology Specialist:

  • Do not wear powder, perfume or deodorant. Imagining is so sensitive.
  • Be prepared to answer health questions. Know your history.
  • Let the radiology technician guide your breasts to get good images. Be prepared to adjust and take more pictures.
  • For those that have super sensitive breasts, breast pads are provided and may help. She also recommends taking Tylenol or Motrin prior.
  • Have mammogram done at least 7 days after your cycle. If you are nursing, wait to have mammogram until you are done breastfeeding.
  • Mammograms take less than 5 minutes.
  • It may be uncomfortable, but not painful.
  • Once your mammogram is completed, schedule your next yearly appointment. And don’t forget those monthly self breast exams.

Meet the Expert

Gulf Coast Moms blog recently sat down with Dr. Richard Orange to ask a few questions about mammograms. Dr. Orange is a member of the Ochsner radiology team at Ochsner Hancock. In 2012, he diagnosed his mother with breast cancer. He found a very small lesion on her breast (the year prior, the lesion was not there). She had to undergo a lumpectomy and radiation. His mother is currently in remission. We are thankful to Dr. Orange for his expert advice and educational insight.

Seeing a doctor for an evaluation will help determine whether something you notice is cause for concern.  
Dr. Orange practices at Ochsner Hancock. To schedule an appointment, call 228-220-5200.
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Christy is Co-Founder and Owner of Gulf Coast Moms Blog. She was born in Costa Rica and moved to the United States when she was 6 years old. She vividly remembers flying into New Orleans and knew, in the moments to come, her life would change forever. She grew up in Moss Point and moved to Hattiesburg to attend college at Southern Miss, where she received her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She met her love, Matthew, and they have enjoyed married life for 13 years. They live in Long Beach with their precious children, John Salem and Ann-Michael. Prior to co-founding Gulf Coast Moms Blog, she had a successful 10+ year career in higher education administration, where she developed and spear-headed campus-wide student initiatives and events. Christy is now spending her days as a stay-at-home mom and serves her community through several non-profit organizations. She enjoys making Costa Rican tamales, a fresh margarita from El Aguila, annual sister spa day, collecting random owl things (Hootie Hoo to my Chi Omega sisters), words of wisdom from Irish priests and pool days. She is passionate about connecting women and creating a supportive, nurturing community to empower moms.