What you should know before your mammogram appointment

About 90 percent of women who find and treat their breast cancer are cancer free five years after diagnosis. Though black women are diagnosed with breast cancer less often than our white counterparts, we still have higher death rates from the disease. Research suggests this is because we’re sicker by the time we’re diagnosed. There has been controversy over the past several years about whether and when you should have mammograms (the American Cancer Society still recommends an annual one starting at age 40), but here’s where there’s no confusion: The procedure can help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer among women ages 40 to 70. That said, get to scheduling. Here’s what you should know before you make your appointment:

Schedule your mammogram at an FDA-certified facility (or one of its state counterparts). This ensures the staff is trained and you’ll receive quality treatment. Find a certified site near you.

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 technologists and staff know if you have breast implants. They may need to take more pictures than a regular mammogram.

You should receive a written report of the results within 30 days of your mammogram, as well as the original mammogram x-ray pictures. If you don’t get your results, don’t assume everything is OK. Call to follow up.

Bring any previous mammograms or have them sent to the center if possible.

Tell your technician if you have physical disabilities that make it hard for you to sit up, lift your arms or hold your breath.