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What Happens at a Mammogram?

What Happens at a Mammogram?

If you’ve never had a mammogram, you may feel nervous or scared. It’s understandable to feel uncomfortable about a new experience. But it’s an important test to have done for screening purposes and you’ll be relieved to hear that there’s no reason to feel scared.

It’s important to get a mammogram done beginning around age 50, though sometimes it’s recommended earlier. A mammogram is an X-ray of your breasts. Dr. Alan Patterson explains more about what to expect from a mammogram and why it’s such an important test.

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is a type of X-ray. The technician positions your breasts between two plates to spread out your breasts for a clear image. Then, the technician takes an X-ray of your breast tissue. They will do this from multiple different angles.

A radiologist will review the results of your X-ray scans. Most often, everything is fine. If anything looks concerning, you may be asked to come back in for more tests.

Does it hurt?

Mammograms can feel a little uncomfortable. Some women may even experience it as painful. A lot depends on how intensely you normally feel pain. You may also experience more pain if the mammogram takes place just before or during your period and if you have larger breasts.

However, it’s important to note that a mammogram only lasts for a few minutes. Even if it’s uncomfortable, it will be over quickly.

Dr Patterson is part owner along with 12 other doctors and his management company of a mammogram center in Boca Raton, called Boca Raton Mammography, that has the latest and best equipment to do both mammograms and breast ultrasounds that causes far less discomfort than other mammogram facilities. His patients love going to his now 2 year old center.

Why you need a mammogram

There are two different types of mammograms: a screening mammogram and a diagnostic mammogram.

A screening mammogram is the most common type of mammogram. It’s performed to detect changes in your breasts that may indicate that you have breast cancer. 

The first mammogram provides a baseline of what your breast tissue normally looks like. They are often repeated, the results of which are compared to your previous mammograms. 

The diagnostic mammogram is performed when you have suspicious symptoms that need to be examined more closely. These may be done if you have breast pain, an unusual new lump, a change to the appearance of your breasts, or new discharge.

The importance of screening mammograms

Getting regular screening mammograms is one of the most important things you can do for your health.

Regular mammograms – as often as yearly and usually beginning in your 40s – can detect cancers early. Catching breast cancer as early as possible can be the difference between life and death. Breast cancer is much more treatable when it’s caught earlier. 

If your mammogram is abnormal

Most of the time, your mammogram will come back with normal results. But if it doesn’t, don’t automatically panic. If your mammogram comes back abnormal, you will have more tests performed. These tests may include the following:


During this procedure, a small amount of tissue is removed from your breast. The doctor will examine it more closely to determine whether or not it is cancerous.

Core-needle biopsy

This procedure uses a hollow needle to remove a small amount of tissue from your breast, which is then examined.


This test uses sound waves to look at your breasts, which may identify lumps.

If you haven’t had a mammogram, there’s no good reason to wait – and plenty of good reasons to schedule it as soon as possible. Contact Dr. Alan Patterson or make an appointment online. 

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