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6 Surprising Reasons Why Women Don’t Get Mammograms

October 17, 2017
Published in: Cancer, Screening, Women

Highlighting 'breast cancer' on a page

In 2013, 39,000 women died from breast cancer in the United States. Nearly one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some time during their lives. Considering these numbers, it may be surprising that only 67 percent of women older than 40 reports having a mammogram within the last two years. Since mammograms are capable of detecting signs of breast cancer before symptoms occur, it's vital that women are screened regularly to reduce the risks of this life-threatening disease. So, what's your excuse for not getting one? Here are some of the most popular reasons women avoid getting this life-saving screening:

Mammograms Are Too Expensive

Not having health insurance is a real concern for many women. Without health insurance, medical costs can be expensive. However, free or low-cost mammograms are often offered through community or national programs, especially in October which is breast cancer awareness month. If you aren't able to afford a mammogram, ask a representative at your local health department or hospital for information about free or low-cost mammograms. Money should never be a reason not to get a mammogram.

Radiation from Mammograms Can Cause Cancer

Woman getting a mammogramMost mammogram providers use the latest breast health imaging technologies. Digital Mammography uses small, safe doses of radiation to perform mammograms. Furthermore, these new technologies provide sharper, clearer images, making it easier to detect breast cancer in very early stages. The chances of getting cancer from a mammogram screening are far smaller than the chances of missing early detection of breast cancer by avoiding these screenings.

I Don't Have Time to Get a Mammogram

Most women are busy. Between work and family needs, getting a mammogram may seem almost impossible. However, the procedure only takes about twenty minutes. Some clinics even offer walk-in options. So, getting a mammogram has never been easier or more convenient. You should be able to fit a mammogram into your busy schedule.

I'm Afraid a Mammogram Might Hurt

With the recent transition to digital mammography, discomfort levels are reduced. Newly designed pedals flex with your body contours and movements and pressure is applied only when necessary. It's also possible to add padding or blankets, in some cases, to minimize discomfort. Most clinics and hospitals are especially mindful when it comes to making patients comfortable during mammograms. Even if there is some discomfort, it doesn't last long, and the rewards far outweigh this drawback.

What if They Find Something During a Screening?

Most people know someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. It's understandable that women may fear getting a mammogram because there is a chance of getting bad news. This anxiety is completely normal, but there is a good reason to put these worries aside and follow through with the procedure. First, not all abnormalities found during an exam indicate breast cancer. In most cases, lumps are not cancerous. Also, early detection is vital to survival. Detecting cancer during the initial stages offers women a five-year survival rate of 98 percent.

Only Older Women Need Mammograms

Illustration showing the inside of a breastThe American Cancer Society recommends annual screenings beginning at age 40. However, women with a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors may need to be screened earlier. Women with family members diagnosed before age 40 are especially at risk. If you're considered to be high risk, you can have genetic testing to determine your actual risks for breast cancer.

Breast cancer is prevalent. Early detection can mean the difference between life and death, so it makes sense to take this advantage so you can live a long and healthy life. All these excuses amount to nothing if you're diagnosed with breast cancer in its late stages. Your chances of recovery are much lower if this disease is diagnosed in later stages.

3D vs. 2D Mammograms

3D mammography is a revolutionary new screening and diagnostic tool designed to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages. 3D mammography has been shown to improve detection rates by 27 to 50 percent. Using 3D mammography also lowers call back rates by 17 to 40 percent. This new screening is done in conjunction with 2D screening to provide a complete picture of your breast health. 3D mammography is FDA approved, but many insurance companies do not reimburse for this exam, yet. Patients choosing to have 3D mammography might pay an extra fee to have this service done.

Visit the Women’s Imaging Center for more information and to schedule your mammogram.