Before your first mammogram, you’re sure to have questions about the procedure, which involves getting a series of X-rays of breast tissue to screen for breast problems. Many women associate mammograms with a breast cancer diagnosis and therefore fear them and put off appointments. But they shouldn’t: The American Cancer Society notes that a relatively small number of mammograms, between two and four out of every 1,000, result in a diagnosis of breast cancer, and these appointments can be key to detecting breast cancer early.
Different organizations recommend different guidelines for the age at which a woman should begin getting mammograms and how often she should be screened. Many women get their first mammogram at 40, but you should talk to your doctor about your breast cancer risk and what screening routine is right for you.
To help you overcome your mammogram worries and take control of your breast health, we reached out to radiologists who read mammograms every day. Here, they share everything you should know before you get your first mammogram, from how to find a facility to what to bring.