How do I prepare for a mammogram?

Sonia M. Ceballos, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
You can prepare for a mammogram by seeing an OB/GYN regularly to become more comfortable, and have proper evaluation. Watch Sonia Ceballos, MD, of MountainView Hospital, describe more ways to prepare for a mammogram. 
Stacy Contreras
Body Imaging
Preparing for a mammogram can help you get more accurate results. In this video, Stacy Contreras, director at Good Samaritan Hospital’s Breast Care Center, discusses tips for preparing for your mammogram appointment. 
Juliet E. Leman, DO
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
The only thing you need to do to prepare for a mammogram is to not wear deodorant the day of the test. If it is your first mammogram, you may get called back for additional images; however, most of the time these are benign (non-cancerous) findings that need a different image to better evaluate. 

It is important to take a few steps in preparation for your mammogram, whether it is your first or your yearly. First, call ahead of your appointment day and make sure you have the correct time, date, and location of your studies. Make sure you bring your doctors written order for the mammogram study. If you have had previous studies at a different center be sure to obtain these studies (mammograms, breast ultrasounds, and/or breast MRI’s) and make them available to the radiologists at the time of your current exam. Comparing prior mammograms to current mammograms is essential for the radiologist to give a complete interpretation of your mammograms. Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts the day of your mammogram. Lastly, describe any breast problems or symptoms to the technologist performing the exam.

To prepare for your mammogram:
  • Limit caffeinated products 3 to 5 days before your exam.
  • Most women prefer to wear a two-piece outfit for comfort.
  • Do not apply deodorant, powder, lotions or sunscreen to the breast and underarm area. These may contain ingredients that may interfere with the visualization of the breast tissue.
  • Take a non-aspirin pain reliever one hour before your exam.
  • Please arrive 15 minutes before your exam time to fill out any paperwork that may be needed.
Audrey K. Chun, MD
Geriatric Medicine
Prepare as follows to get the most from your mammogram:
  • Do not apply deodorant the day of the mammogram; it can mimic calcifications and cause unneeded repeat views.
  • Tell the mammography technologist of any physical limitations you have, such as a frozen shoulder or neck stiffness. Also, report any large skin moles and if you have gained or lost a significant amount of weight since your last mammogram.
  • If you change mammography facilities, bring your prior mammograms with you to your appointment. By federal law, a mammography facility must provide them (there may be a fee).
To prepare for a mammogram (an x-ray of the inside of the breast, which can be done either as a routine screening test or to pinpoint the cause of breast cancer symptoms) you will need to undress from the waist up, so it will be easier if you wear a two-piece outfit and a shirt you can remove easily.

Before your test, please do not put deodorant, powders, or perfume under your arms or in the chest area. Ingredients in these products can show up on the mammogram and look like abnormal areas.
Prepare yourself before your mammography examination. You can take some simple steps to help your exam go smoothly, and even improve the quality of the images.
  • You may be asked to wash off any skin creams, perfumes, powders, or antiperspirants applied near the breasts on the day of your exam. Some ingredients of these products can show up on the film or otherwise interfere with the quality of the images, which then would need to be repeated for clarification.
  • Wear a two-piece outfit (skirt or pants and a top) for ease and comfort. You will be given a gown before the exam, but you only need to remove your clothes from the waist up.
  • If your most recent mammography examination was performed at a different facility, bring the films with you to the appointment. The most subtle abnormalities are often detected because they represent a change from a previous mammogram. Also, extra pictures to clarify a questionable finding may not be necessary if the radiologist notes a similar appearance on a previous mammogram.
  • Relax during the exam and allow the technologist to position you for each picture. If your muscles are tense, it will be more difficult for the technologist to position and take clear images of your breast.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.