Top 10 reasons women avoid mammograms and facts to change your mind

September 21, 2022 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast, and the single most effective method of early breast cancer detection.

A mammogram is recommended annually for women starting at age 40 and then every two years from ages 50-74. Women at high risk for breast cancer should begin screening earlier. Your doctor can help you decide when and how often you should get screened.

A mammogram can help detect breast cancer before physical symptoms develop by locating tumors that are too small or too deep to be found by breast self-examination. Yet, some women don’t get this lifesaving test when they should.

Here are the top 10 reasons women avoid mammograms, and the facts to change your mind:

  1. “It hurts.” True, it isn’t comfortable. But having breast cancer hurts even more. Ladies — do we get our eyebrows plucked, do we get hair removed by waxing, and do some of us get breast implants and plastic surgery? A mammogram is far less painful than going through all of this.
  2. “I am afraid of the results.” We are all afraid of test results. Waiting to get your Pap smear results is nerve-racking also. The bottom line is, if cancer is found early enough, it can save your life.
  3. “Nobody in my family has had breast cancer.” About 75 percent of breast cancers are found in women with no family history of the disease.
  4. “I don’t feel a lump.” You do not have to feel a lump to have breast cancer. Microcalcifications only show up on mammograms — you can’t feel them. The vast majority of calcifications are benign, but they can also be a warning sign of early breast cancer.
  5. “I am too small to have cancer, I have small breasts.” Too small, too large, cancer knows no size.
  6. “Too much radiation.” The EPA states that you get just as much radiation from natural occurring radiation in six months as you get with one mammogram. Examples of natural sources of radiation are from the earth, radon in the air, and traveling in an airplane.
  7. “I am too young.” It is very rare to get cancer before age 30, but if you feel a lump, get it checked it out. If you have a family history of breast cancer, you should start getting a mammogram 10 years before your family member was diagnosed. For example, if your mother was diagnosed at 38-years-old, you should start getting your mammograms at 28.
  8. “I am healthy.” An avid runner, Cheryl Crow led a healthy lifestyle and still got breast cancer. Dana Reeve (Christopher Reeve’s wife) got lung cancer and she never smoked cigarettes. Cancer does not discriminate between healthy and unhealthy people.
  9. “My doctor never ordered one.” If not, ask why and then have your doctor place the order or schedule one yourself.
  10. “I heard mammograms miss a lot of cancers.” Yes, mammograms can miss cancer. No diagnostic procedure is 100 percent infallible. Between mammography and self-breast examination, we can decrease this statistic. Not having a mammogram catches 0 percent of cancers.

Early detection is key to defeating breast cancer. Getting your annual mammogram is an important part of your healthy body routine. Now’s the time. Edward-Elmhurst Health makes it so simple. We offer same-day, no referral appointments and same-day results for most mammograms. 

Learn more about mammograms.

Schedule your annual screening mammogram today.

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