Breast Cancer Screening: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

A breast X-ray (mammogram) and an examination by your doctor can help find breast cancer early. Cancer is easier to treat when it's found early. If you are age 40 or older, ask your doctor when to start and how often to have a mammogram. The X-ray can spot tumours that are too small to be felt by hand. (It also can show harmless lumps, such as fluid-filled cysts).

During a breast examination, your doctor will feel your breasts for lumps or any other possible signs of cancer. During a mammogram, a machine squeezes your breasts to make them flatter and easier to X-ray. Your breasts may feel a bit sore as the machine squeezes. After the test, a doctor will study your mammogram. Your doctor will tell you the results. You will also be told if you need any follow-up tests.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

What should you do to get ready for a mammogram?

  • On the day of the mammogram, do not use any deodorant, perfume, powders, or lotions on your breasts or armpits. They may affect the X-rays.
  • Remove any jewellery. You will need to take off your clothes above the waist. You will put on a cloth or paper top. If you are concerned about an area of your breast, show the technologist so that the area can be noted.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If you have breast pain after the mammogram, take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You notice any changes in your breasts or the skin on your breasts. These may include lumps, fluid leaking suddenly from your nipples, or changes to the skin on your breast or nipple.

Where can you learn more?

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Current as of: July 26, 2016