What Happens During a Mammogram?   

What Happens During a Mammogram?

Radiologist helps a patient, in a robe, before a mammogram.

March 13, 2023

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Deena M. Atieh Graham, M.D.

A mammogram is an X-ray of each of your breasts, which is used to detect early breast cancer. Knowing what to expect during your screening may help alleviate anxiety and help the process go more smoothly.

What can I expect during a mammogram?

  • You will be asked to undress from the waist up, and given a gown for covering.
  • Your technician will guide you to stand in front of the X-ray machine.
  • Each of your breasts will be placed between two plastic plates one at a time. This is when the technician will lower the plastic plate that will flatten your breast so the breast tissue can be examined best. 

Blue and white vector graphic representing a woman's breast being scanned for a mammography.

During the screening you and the technician will be the only ones in the room. The technician will guide you through the process and positioning. Multiple images will be taken from different positions for accurate results. The whole process should take about 15 minutes to complete. 

“While the screening itself may be uncomfortable for a few minutes, it’s well worth it! A regular mammogram screening is the best test to detect early breast cancer,” says oncologist Deena Mary Atieh Graham, M.D. 

“Sometimes it is hard to stay relaxed, especially when pressure is applied to spread your breasts, as this is the process that most patients dread the most but your technician is there to help and support you,” says Dr. Graham. 

Pro Tips to Prepare for Your Mammogram

  • Avoid scheduling during your period: Schedule your mammogram one or two weeks after your period, as your breasts can be tender during that time.

  • Set ample time for your appointment: Make your mammogram appointment on a day and time when you are free to avoid being rushed. 

  • Skip deodorant that day: Do not wear deodorant, powder, lotion or perfume on the day of your exam as they can interfere with the results. 

  • Leave the jewels at home: Avoid wearing any jewelry as you will be asked to take it out before your screening. 

  • Don’t wear a dress or one-piece: It is recommended that you wear a two-piece outfit so you can keep your lower clothing on during the screening. 

  • Bring previous mammogram results: If you’ve had mammograms at other facilities before, bring your records so your doctor can compare your results. 

  • Important documents to remember: Be sure to bring your medical insurance, ID and prescription with you at the facility where you are scheduled for mammogram. 

What happens after a mammogram?

After your mammogram, the technician will look at your pictures to make sure they don’t need to take any additional X-rays. After that, a radiologist will read your mammogram results. 

At some facilities, a radiologist will review your results while you are there and at others you’ll receive the results at a later time. If you don't hear about your results within a week, call your physician. 

Don’t be alarmed if you’re required to schedule additional imaging, it just might be because you have dense breast tissue or images weren’t clear and need to be retaken. 

“As with doing anything for the first time, you may be nervous for your mammogram, but just remember the team is there to support you and help you feel comfortable,” says Dr. Graham. “Don’t hesitate to ask questions, or ask for information to be repeated, if you have concerns feel free to voice them.” 

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.



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