During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we stress the importance of mammograms.
Many women don’t discover they have breast cancer until they have a mammogram. Many of the signs of breast cancer are not always visible to the touch or the eye.
Not only are mammograms faster, more convenient and less uncomfortable than ever before, they’re also more accurate and save lives!
Let’s debunk five common misconceptions about mammograms.
- I don’t know when I’m supposed to get a mammogram.
Starting at age 40, women with an average risk of breast cancer have the option to get a mammogram once a year. After 55, women can switch to a mammogram every two years or continue annual mammograms. However, women with a higher risk may need to start screenings younger than 40, including women with a mother, sister or daughter who has or has had breast cancer. It’s recommended to talk to your doctor about what’s best for you!
- I can’t afford a mammogram; it’s too expensive.
By law, most health insurance plans must cover screening mammograms for women over 40. In many states, Medicaid and public employee health plans cover screening mammograms. Medicare also covers annual mammograms for all women over the age of 40. You can call your insurance company to confirm coverage. If you don’t have insurance, talk to your provider about your options. You could qualify for reduced rates or a free mammogram based on various factors.
- I’m scared of what the mammogram might find.
It can be scary, but early detection is the best protection. Finding breast cancer early gives you more options for treatment and can save your life. Less than 1 in 10 women need further tests after mammograms. More than 99% of women that get a callback are in the clear.
- I have no breast problems or a family history of breast cancer.
Most women with breast cancer have no family history of breast cancer. Studies show that the older you are, the higher likelihood of developing breast cancer, regardless of your family history.
- My breasts are too small or big for the machine.
Thanks to improvement in technology, mammograms are less painful than ever before. If you’re still worried about pain or discomfort, talk to your doctor about taking a pain reliever before the appointment. You may want to consider scheduling your mammogram a week or two before your period. Breasts may be tender during your menstrual cycle.
If you have larger breasts, your technician may need to take many photos of the breast tissue. If you have small breasts, you may think you don’t need a mammogram because you don’t have enough breast tissue. However, everyone has enough tissue for a mammogram. Technicians are trained to know how to do mammograms on all women, regardless of breast size.
An annual mammogram can detect breast cancer when no obvious symptoms are present. Talk to your doctor if you’re anxious and treat yourself after your appointment as an incentive to go to your appointment.
If you need to schedule your mammogram, click this link and call one of our clinics across the state: https://www.chistvincent.com/clinical-services/women’s-health/breast-health
- ACS Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines
- Getting Called Back After a Mammogram | Mammogram Call Back (cancer.org)
- Barriers-and-Responses.pdf (komentoolkits.org)
- How to Prepare for a Mammogram | Preparation for Mammography (cancer.org)
- What Are the Risk Factors for Breast Cancer? | CDC
- Mammograms – What You Should Know | Susan G. Komen®