What can I expect during 1st Mammogram?
I am 34 years old. My OBGYN has scheduled me for a mammogram tomorrow due to pain on the side of my lft breast and what she felt to be maybe a lymph node or a cyst under my lft arm and on the side of my lft breast as well.
She wants two x-rays of each breast to compare and an ultrasound. I'm a little upset having to do a mammogram so early (at 34) but she said due to my family history of breast cancer (my father's mother died, at 55 due to breast cancer) that I should have my first mammogram at 35 and my next one not until the age of 40. Anyway, I would like to know what I an expect on my first mammogram. Is it painful. Most importantly, Why are they telling me the procedure may last up to 2 hours?!
think there may have been a miscommunication. Based on the information you provided, you shouldn't be starting screening mammography earlier. And from what your doctor has told you (a mammogram now, and regular mammograms when you turn 40), it doesn't sound like she's saying that.
What I suspect is that she's sending you for a *diagnostic* mammogram of your left breast to see if there is anything the mammogram can pick up related to your symptoms and her physical exam. The right breast will also be done to look for symmetry. The radiologist will then look at the mammogram and may examine you herself/himself. Based on the findings, s/he may get additional mammograms to get a better look at anything that doesn't look 100% normal. All of this is pretty routine and standardized, so just because the radiologist comes in and pokes around or gets other views, it doesn't necessarily mean there's cancer. So don't freak out if that happens :)
The ultrasound will follow to look at what your doctor felt on her physical exam and anything else that the radiologist saw on the mammogram. They may look at the right breast too, if they want to look for symmetry.
These diagnostic studies generally take much longer than a regular screening mammogram, so they're scheduling you for 2 hours so you're not surprised when you get there.
If everything is normal, then you'll come back in 5 years (when you turn 40) to start your regular screening mammograms as recommended by the American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology.
It can be very confusing. I hope that helps clarify what's going on.
As for the pain, it'll be uncomfortable (they'll be squeezing your breasts fairly hard), but it's manageable.
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