Mammograms use x-ray images to detect changes in the breast tissue. Having a mammogram helps us to decide if a change in your breast needs further testing, and the mammogram can also show changes early before they can be felt.
We will normally do a mammogram if you are 35 or older and haven’t had a mammogram in the past 6 months. For younger women mammograms are not as helpful because the breast tissue is dense and so we don’t usually do one if you are under 35 years old. All the mammograms that we carry out at Luton are modern digital mammograms which are more effective at picking up abnormalities, even in denser breast tissue
Talcum powder, deodorant, antiperspirant or perfume can interfere with the quality of the mammogram pictures we get so if you are wearing any we will ask you to remove them with a wet wipe when you come.
Please tell us if you might be pregnant as we will avoid mammograms; if you are pregnant and a mammogram is felt to be essential we will use a lead apron to protect your baby. Please also tell us if you have breast implants; we can still perform mammograms but in a slightly different way.
To have a mammogram you will be asked to remove your top clothes and change into a gown. Specialist radiographers who are all female will take the mammogram pictures. To do this they will need to place the breast tissue between 2 plates and squeeze gently, which flattens out the breast to give us a clear picture. When the breast is being squeezed this can be uncomfortable, but the process does not take long to complete. The radiographer will take pictures in two views to start with; sometimes additional views are needed if some areas are not clear. The radiographer will remain in the room with you the whole time you are having a mammogram; they will be behind a clear screen that prevents them from being exposed to the radiation but you will be able to see and talk to them.
The dose of radiation that you get from having a mammogram is very low. We are all exposed to radiation that comes from the earth, and the dose you get from a mammogram is equivalent to what you receive from the earth every 3-6 months, or the same as what you would receive from going on a long-haul aeroplane flight.
Your mammogram pictures will be looked at by a Specialist Radiologist; if they are done in a One Stop clinic you will have those results the same day, otherwise you will receive a letter through the post with the results a few weeks later.