4 reasons why women aren’t getting mammograms

The American Cancer Society and American College of Radiology recommend women age 40 and older get a mammogram every year.

And why we need to stop making excuses!

I didn’t know I was due.

The American Cancer Society and American College of Radiology recommend women age 40 and older get a mammogram every year. If you are over 40 and don’t know this, it means you are not getting regular checkups or gynecologic exams — both an important part of taking good care of yourself and a time when your doctor will review any health screenings you’re due for. If you have a family history of breast cancer or additional risk factors, talk with your doctor about starting screenings earlier.

“Because early studies evaluating the effectiveness of screening mammograms were not designed to specifically evaluate women ages 40 to 50, it has taken time to demonstrate the benefit in this age group. Now, with over 30 years of follow-up, we know that detecting cancer in these women saves lives.

Each advance in technology makes the accuracy of mammography even better. Although there are other ways to look at the breast tissue, such as MRI and ultrasound, they are unsatisfactory substitutes for mammography,” said Nancy Pile, M.D., director of breast imaging for Norton Hospital and Norton Healthcare Brownsboro Hospital.

I just don’t have time.

It’s easy to put your own health at the bottom of the to-do list when you’re juggling a busy life. However, taking less than one hour out of one day in your year is a worthwhile investment. Think of it as a way of giving yourself some valuable “me time.”

“I hear this excuse all of the time,” said Janel Willingham, APRN, a nurse practitioner who provides breast cancer screenings aboard the Norton Healthcare Mobile Prevention Center. “Women are caring for kids, aging parents and others and just don’t have the time. I say, ‘You’ve got to take care of yourself in order to do a good job of taking care of others. If you’re not healthy, you can’t take care of those who are dependent on you.’”

Mammograms hurt.

Mammograms are uncomfortable, but just for a few seconds. If you find them really bothersome, you can reduce discomfort by scheduling your mammogram . 10 to 14 days after the start of your menstrual cycle, when breasts are less tender. Avoid caffeine a week before your appointment and take ibuprofen the morning of your mammogram.

I’m scared of what it might find.

“Fear of the unknown is a valid concern,” said Bethanie R. Hammond, M.D., radiologist at the Breast Health Center at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital. “However, of those needing a biopsy for a suspicious finding, about 80 percent end up benign not cancerous). So, getting a call back after a mammogram doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong.”

Consider having your mammogram at a facility offering 3-D mammography. This newer technology may be more accurate at detecting cancer, especially in women with dense breasts. Therefore, the number of false positives is reduced.

The bottom line is mammography can find breast cancer early, when it’s most treatable. Earlier detection means more treatment options, and more treatment options mean better outcomes. So do this one thing for yourself — to preserve your health.


Though it doesn’t replace the need for a yearly mammogram, take a free online breast cancer risk assessment at NortonHealthcare.com/Breast-Cancer-Risk-Assessment to learn how your health history and lifestyle contribute to risk for developing breast cancer.

Schedule your mammogram today!

With the passing of the Affordable Care Act, every woman age 40 and older with health insurance is covered for a yearly mammogram. If you don’t have insurance, the Norton Healthcare Mobile Prevention Center offers free and low-cost breast cancer screenings. Convenient locations around town make getting a mammogram quick and convenient. To find a location near you, call (502) 337-3901.

Though it doesn’t replace the need for a yearly mammogram, take a free online breast cancer risk assessment at NortonHealthcare.com/Breast-Cancer- Risk-Assessment to learn how your health history and lifestyle contribute to risk for developing breast cancer.


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