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Experts Offer Tips on Easing Mammogram Discomfort

Simple steps like avoiding caffeine can help, they say

SUNDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Mammograms can be uncomfortable, causing some women to skip the potentially lifesaving annual exam. But experts at Baylor Health Care System in Texas offer tips on how to ease any possible discomfort during the procedure.

Don't drink coffee, tea or caffeinated soft drinks during the week before 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 any OTC medication before you take it during the week before a mammogram.

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 during periods of breast tenderness.

"Most women's breasts are naturally more tender or slightly swollen during the week prior to their menstrual period," Dr. Alicia Starr, medical director of the Women's Imaging Center at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano, noted in a prepared statement. "Try to avoid scheduling your annual mammogram during this time."

It's also a good idea to wear a two-piece outfit with a blouse or sweater. It's easier and faster to take off a blouse or sweater instead of removing a one-piece dress.

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

More information

The U.S. National Women's Health Information Center has more about mammography.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Baylor Health Care System, news release, Sept. 17, 2007

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