What to expect to see at your mammogram appointment – a tour of the machine!

Today Julie talks you through the mammogram experience, showing you the machine and how the compression is controlled – and by whom. Follow the link to the video, and all will be revealed – we can promise that all mammogram machines will look and act in the same way, but we can’t promise a lovely Irish accent to go with every mammogram, sadly! 

OK, so you need to go for a regular mammogram, but like most women your age you’ve never set foot inside a mobile breast screening van – you have no idea what’s waiting for you. We can understand that this could worry some of you, and maybe even stop you from attending. So let’s go through what an appointment is like, complete with a tour of the machine.

First, you’ll see the reception desk

An image showing a hieroglyph of a scholarSo, we’ll greet you (maybe even with a smile!) and check that you’re on the appointment list. It’s important that you are, as behind the scenes there are a lot of checks and double checks within the system to make sure that the right person has their mammogram at the right time, and that they get the right result for it.

We need to ask you about your medical history – but only that part of your medical history that involves your breasts. We ask you either by getting you to fill a questionnaire, or via a short interview, somewhere private. What sort of things do we want to know?

Where and when your last mammogram was – we compare the last mammogram with the one you’re about to have, and any unexplained or new changes will mean that there could be something happening in that breast that we’d like to take a closer look at. So we like to find your previous mammogram.

Any breast surgery, no matter how long ago will leave internal scars that will show up on your mammogram – the film readers will want to know why that part of your breast looks different from the rest, and if there’s an explanation then they’ll be satisfied that nothing sinister is going on.

Image showing drawing of a mammogramAny history of other cancers that you may have had, or a history of breast cancer is useful information that gives the film reader a greater understanding of what your breasts should look like, helps them identify what they shouldn’t look like, and they’ll call you back for a closer look.

Then you’ll meet us and the mammogram machine

Then you can get undressed (top half of you only!) in the changing areas (the cubicle may be quite small, room enough for you only) and you’re into the room. And here, we have the machine itself and the mammographer. Ever wondered what a mammogram machine looks like? What exactly the ‘squash’ is about?

Well, wonder no more – Julie is here to give you a quick tour of the machine. Follow the link below for a personal tour. For those a little bit concerned, or curious about what will happen when you get into the mammogram room, Julie talks you through it.

Did you ever realise who or what makes the compression paddle come down onto your breast? It’s not the machine, it’s the mammographer – and ultimately, it’s you. You’re in control of it – let us know, talk to us if you’re feeling extreme pain. We’re expecting you to be uncomfortable, we’re expecting it to feel tight, but we need to know from you how you’re feeling.

And if you want it to stop, then we’ll stop. It’s your body, after all.

Then we’re all done.

After that’s done – you can go and get dressed again (don’t forget your glasses, or anything else you put down!) and enjoy the rest of your day. The results will follow; and that will be within two weeks (that’s our target that the national screening programme insist upon, and we’re usually good at sticking to it).

Got another question? Please ask via our forum here – we’re happy to answer any query you may have about the mammogram – it’s what we do, after all.

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