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What to expect when undergoing a 3D Mammogram?

Breast cancer is one of the most prevailing kinds of cancer, and it is highly curable in the initial stages. A mammogram is the X-ray of the breast that is used to identify the changes in breast tissue. In several countries, there is the choice of taking regular mammogram screening since this can help spot breast cancer in the initial stages. If you have ever undergone a 2D mammogram, the 3D experience will not be a surprise for you. From your side of the exam, there are only slight changes. You will observe the machine moving in an arc over your breast, but otherwise, the process is almost the same as a traditional 2D mammogram. The real variance with 3D (also called tomosynthesis) occurs behind the scenes. The radiologist obtains a much more thorough look at the breast tissues. In this article, we will discuss what to expect when undergoing a 3D mammogram.

The Process Aspects

The 3D mammogram imaging process may have some discomfort. However, there are steps to lessen it, and any pain generally passes quickly. A 3D mammogram is fast and noninvasive. It needs no recovery time, and due to its ability to help earlier detection of breast cancer, if any, it can save lives.

You should expect some factors that affect whether a mammogram may hurt. These include:

  • the skill of the radiologist or technician
  • nervousness about the 3D mammogram
  • the structure of your breast

If the machine is placed and held in the right position, this may also lead to problems. For instance, some people need to contort their backs, because of the height of the machine. This may cause back or neck pain from the muscle strain. It is vital to let the technician or radiologist know if any specific position makes you feel uncomfortable since this is also an indication that the machine is placed at the wrong height.

Any patient having fibrocystic breasts — referring to the existence of harmless cysts — is more likely to feel pain during a 3D mammogram. A mammogram helps distinguish breast cancer in the initial stages. There are the early signs of the disease that you can expect to be diagnosed during a 3D mammogram process.

Reducing the Expected Pain

The first step is to select a suitable clinic. We recommend patients to visit the clinics having the American College of Radiology accreditation. Next, a patient can do several things to decrease the discomfort of a 3D mammogram.

Timing: Schedule your mammogram for the week after your menstrual period. During and instantly before a period, the hormonal swings can surge breast sensitivity.

History: Inform your technician about the fibrocystic breasts and any history about painful mammograms.

Tobacco and Caffeine: Having less caffeine and avoiding smoking can help decrease breast tenderness, as per studies.

Drugs: Using a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, like ibuprofen, 45–60 minutes before the screening can help decrease the pain.

Padding: Some mammography centers provide padding. Cushioning between the breasts and the plates of the machine may greatly decrease pain.

Breathing: Taking slow, deep breaths before the imaging can decrease tension-induced pain, and it can eventually help yield a more precise image.

Stay still during the imaging: Making any movement, even taking a breath — especially when the technician is taking the X-ray may yield blurred images.

Delaying if you are breastfeeding: Any patient who is breastfeeding, but who will wean soon, should delay mammograms to avoid any pain.

Many technicians take time to decrease pain. Rushing the mammogram process can increase the chances of discomfort, while a cautious approach can ensure correct placement in the machine, which can decrease the risk of pinching as well as other sources of pain.

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