Dr Esther Chuwa, consultant breast surgeon and medical director, shares more below. By Dawn Chen 

Photo: Camarena/Image Source/Corbis

The idea of having your lady lumps squished in between two metal plates is daunting, but mammograms are still the best way to detect early breast cancer. In view of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here are some tips from Dr Esther Chuwa, consultant breast surgeon and medical director at Esther Chuwa BreastCare Practice, on how to make your mammogram a more pleasant experience.

1. Time it right

Avoid scheduling your mammogram one week before your period as breasts are more tender then. This will help lessen the discomfort. Aim to go the week after your period ends.

2. Pop a painkiller

If you’re very sensitive to pain, popping an OTC painkiller such as aspirin about one to two hours before your mammogram can help. 

3. Consider your age

Mammograms are usually recommended for women who are 40 and older. Younger women have denser breasts that make detection of abnormalities harder since breast tissue tends to mask them. In such cases, going for a breast ultrasound test may aid detection.

4. Dress appropriately

On the day of your appointment, be sure to wear a two-piece outfit. Do not wear any jewellery. Avoid wearing perfume, deodorant or powder too as these can compromise the accuracy of the mammogram. 

5. Perform regular breast self-examinations (BSE) 

Mammograms are not foolproof, and can miss up to 20 per cent of breast cancers. In between your screenings, be sure to do monthly BSEs. Any abnormalities detected during your BSE should be closely monitored. Do not hesitate to see a doctor if only one breast is affected or if the change is progressive and does not fluctuate with each menstrual cycle. Learn how to perform a BSE, courtesy of the Health Promotion Board (HPB) below.

Photo: Health Promotion Board

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