The following content is created in partnership with Jefferson Radiology. It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC Connecticut's editorial staff. Click here to learn more about Jefferson Radiology.
Early detection is essential in finding and treating cancer in its earliest stage. In fact, when breast cancer is found early, the five-year survival rate is almost 100 percent. Yet, so many women don’t get screened. Here are some of the top reasons women skip these life-saving screenings and why these justifications just don’t cut it.
“I’m scared they’ll find something.” It’s natural to be afraid of the results of any medical exam. Mammography is no exception. But this natural fear can’t be an excuse to avoid your annual appointment, especially for those who are in the early stages of breast cancer when detection is crucial. Some of the best news one can hear is that an anomaly was detected in time. Keep in mind—even if mammogram results show abnormalities in your breast, it isn’t automatically synonymous with cancer. Abnormalities can be significantly varied. Having results in hand is vital to determine your next course of action.
“Mammograms are painful.” The compression that the mammary gland receives during mammography is necessary to obtain an accurate image. In fact, the higher the compression performed, the higher quality images are obtained and the lower the radiation dose received. The exam may bother you during compression, but the pain shouldn't be intolerable, just a bit uncomfortable. Keep in mind that your breasts may be a little sore after the procedure, but it will go away quickly. It may help to take a pain reliever before having a mammogram. As an added comfort measure, you may want to avoid scheduling your mammogram before your period because your breasts may be swollen or more sensitive if you are about to start or are menstruating.
“I believe that mammograms are inaccurate.” It’s true: mammograms aren't perfect and can throw false-negative or a false-positive results. Still, they're the best available way to detect breast cancer early—when it's most treatable. Overall, mammograms are about 80% effective in identifying cancer when present. At Jefferson Radiology, the physicians who interpret your mammogram are specialized in breast imaging. This means they've received extensive training and can provide more accurate results. Also, all mammograms are not built the same: New 3D technology has truly revolutionized mammography. Jefferson Radiology offers the most advanced 3D mammogram available today, which means fewer unnecessary callbacks and the earliest-ever detection of cancer.
“It’s not covered by insurance”. Did you know that the Affordable Care Act requires that health plans fully cover the cost of a mammogram screening every one or two years for women over 40? Medicare and Medicaid also cover them. However, if you are between 40 and 64 years old, and you are without health insurance or for some reason your plan doesn't cover the mammogram, there are ways to work around cost-related roadblocks. For example, organizations like Susan G. Komen Foundation, American Cancer Society and American Breast Cancer Foundation offer financial assistance or offer access to free mammograms.
“I had a normal mammogram last year, so I don’t need another one this year.” A woman’s breasts are always changing. So having a normal mammogram is great news, but it doesn't guarantee that future mammograms will be normal.
Things to keep in mind when having a mammogram
- Knowing how to prepare for your mammogram can help ease your mind and speed up the process.
- Avoid wearing deodorant, perfume, lotion or powder under your arms or on your breasts on the day of your exam because foreign particles could show up in an x-ray.
- Many organizations, including Susan G. Komen and the American College of Radiology, recommend an annual screening. To make sure you stay on top of your breast health, book your next year's appointment before you leave the office.
Having a mammogram every year increases the chance of detecting cancer when its small and most easily treated which also improves the likelihood of survival. Mammograms are available to women at any of Jefferson Radiology's nine conveniently located facilities. Click here to learn more about the advantages of their 3D mammography and to make an appointment.