Preparing for your mammogram
A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that looks for changes that may be breast cancer.
During a mammogram, each breast is pressed firmly between the plates of the mammogram machine for a few minutes so a clear X-ray picture can be taken. At least 2 X-ray pictures of each breast are taken.
Before you go
You’ll receive a letter confirming your appointment. Phone us on 0800 270 200 to confirm or change your appointment.
When you ring, please let us know if you:
- have had a mammogram before
- need wheelchair access
- need an interpreter
- have problems moving your shoulder or arm
- have breast implants
- have a heart device such as a pacemaker
- have any other special requirements that may make having a mammogram a bit harder.
We may need to change your appointment or give you a longer appointment.
While mobile clinics have wheelchair hoist, we encourage you to come to a clinic if you need wheelchair access, as they’ll be able to provide better access, allow more time and accommodate carers.
You’re welcome to bring someone to support you – we recommend they wait outside the room while you get the mammogram itself
When you arrive
- Give the receptionist your name and details.
- You will be asked to read and sign a form to agree to have the mammogram.
- When your name is called, you will be shown to a private area to undress, and given a cape or gown to put on.
- Please ask for a cloth to wipe away any deodorant you have on.
- You will then meet the radiographer (the woman doing your mammogram). Let her know if you have breast implants, are on hormone replacement therapy or have a heart device such as a pacemaker.
- If you have any questions or concerns, now is the perfect time to ask.
During the mammogram
Your test should only take about 20 minutes. Here’s what you need to know.
- The radiographer will try to make you feel as comfortable as possible. If your last mammogram was painful or you have any questions or concerns please let them know.
- Tell the radiographer if you have breast implants or are on hormone replacement therapy.
- The mammogram uses X-rays to look ‘through’ breast tissue. To get the best picture the radiographer will need to flatten your breasts. Some women find it uncomfortable, but if it actually hurts please let her know straight away.
- She will ask you to stand close to the machine and hold very still for about a minute while she takes the pictures.
- Normally she will take 2 pictures of each breasts, but if you have large breasts she may need more.
- Your radiographer will quickly check the quality of the pictures, then let you know your mammogram is finished.
- You can now get dressed again in private.
Your results should arrive within 3 weeks.
Sometimes you will be asked back for another mammogram because the first one was not clear enough. This is just a technical check, not because an abnormality has been found.
Tips to make things easier
- Don't use talcum powder, creams or deodorants on the day.
- Wear clothing that is easy to remove, such as a blouse or jersey – you’ll need to undress from the waist up.
- Bring your client detail form if you have one.
- Bring any previous mammograms that you have had elsewhere (so results can be compared with your new mammogram).
- You may be asked to remove jewellery and taonga so you may prefer not to wear these.
- Don’t forget the little things – like bringing your glasses if you need them to fill in a form.