Mammograms can be uncomfortable, causing some women to skip the potentially life-saving annual exam. But experts at Baylor Health Care System in Texas offer tips on how to ensure the test's accuracy and ease any possible discomfort during the procedure…

  • Don't drink coffee, tea or caffeinated soft drinks during the week before having a mammogram. Caffeine can make breasts tender and lumpy, which may lead to discomfort during a mammogram. Chocolate and some over-the-counter pain relievers also contain caffeine. Check the label of OTC medications.
  • Don't use deodorant, perfumes, talcum powder, or oils on the day of a mammogram. These products can leave a residue that can be picked up by the X-rays, obscuring the mammogram and possibly interfering with the results, leading to the need for a second mammogram.
  • Don't have a mammogram the week before your period. "Most women's breasts are naturally more tender or slightly swollen during the week prior to their menstrual period," according to Dr. Alicia Starr, medical director of the Women's Imaging Center at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano, Texas. "Try to avoid scheduling your annual mammogram during this time"
  • Wear a two-piece outfit with a blouse or sweater. It's easier and faster to take off a blouse or sweater than removing a one-piece dress.

Mammography is currently the most effective way of finding breast cancer in its earliest and most treatable stages, experts note.

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