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From the FDA Office of Women's Health

Woman being positioned for a mammogram by a healthcare technician

En Español Download English PDF (3.13MB) Download Spanish PDF (2.44MB)

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What is a mammogram? 

A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray picture of the breast. Mammograms are the best primary screening tool to find breast cancer. Ask your health care provider if and when a mammogram is right for you.

Mammography Saves Lives

Schedule your mammogram today. Search for a certified mammography facility in your area.

Watch this video on 5 things to know about mammograms.

Why should I get a mammogram?

Mammograms can help save lives. They can find breast lumps at an early stage, before lumps are big enough to feel or cause symptoms. Early detection of breast cancer can lead to early treatment options, and better chances of survival.

Mammograms cannot find all problems. Call your doctor or clinic if you notice any change in your breasts, including:

  • a lump
  • thickening
  • liquid leaking from the nipple or changes in how the nipple looks

How is a mammogram done?

  • When you have a mammogram, you stand in front of a special x-ray machine.
  • You will need to take off your shirt and bra.
  • Your breast is placed on a small platform.
  • A clear plastic plate presses down on the breast for a few seconds. You might find the pressure on the breast uncomfortable. 
  • The technologist will take several pictures of the breast.
  • A specialist then looks at the x-ray pictures to see if there are any changes in the breast.

How do I get my results?

  • You and your health care provider should get written results within 30 days after your mammogram.
  • Call if you don’t get your results. Do not assume that everything is normal.
  • Ask for your mammogram. It can be saved on a CD. Keep it to compare with mammograms you get later.

Things to know before you get your mammogram

Follow these tips to help you prepare for your mammogram.

  • Don’t wear deodorant, perfume, lotion or powder under your arms or on your breasts on the day of your exam. Foreign particles could show up in an x-ray.
  • Let the staff know if you have breast implants. They may need to take more pictures than a regular mammogram.
  • Bring prior mammograms or have them sent to the center if possible.
  • Tell the clinic if you have physical disabilities that may make it hard for you to sit up, lift your arms, hold your breath, or dress yourself. Also, let them know if you use a wheelchair or scooter.
  • Talk with the staff about how they will handle issues of modesty that you may have due to your religion.

       Spread the word about the importance of mammograms

         Encourage the women in your family or community to get regular mammograms.
Text: Schedule your next mammogram today - images of ethnically diverse women
There are many ways that you can spread the word:
  • Pink Ribbon Guide - Mammography Matters. Get resources and step-by-step instructions to plan, promote, launch and evaluate Pink Ribbon mammography awareness events in your community. 
  • Download the mammography partner toolkit (PDF, 1.81 MB). This toolkit includes social media content, a blog post, and resources to help you share important information about mammograms with the women in your community.

How FDA helps you

FDA regulates the standards for mammography machines and training for the people who provide mammograms. All places that give mammograms in the U.S. must be certified under the Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA). FDA keeps a list of all certified places where you can get a mammogram.

FDA provides information and resources to raise awareness about the importance of mammograms for breast cancer screening. Check out these resources to help you learn the facts about mammograms, including the difference between 3D and 2D mammograms and more.

Download mammogram fact sheet in other languages

Order Mammogram fact sheet in English and Spanish in bulk

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