What's Your Excuse for Avoiding a Mammogram?

Providence Health Team

Does the thought of having a mammogram send a shiver through you? Not many women look forward to baring themselves and having their breasts squashed by Wall-E’s big brother. We women come up with all sorts of reasons to skip this potentially life-saving procedure. Here are the top six excuses doctors hear – and six reasons why these excuses just don’t work.

  1. I don’t feel any lumps. Pat yourself on the back for having good breast awareness – knowing how your breasts usually look and feel. Even though you don’t feel any lumps, mammograms can detect tumors up to three years before they’re big enough to feel. The earlier you detect breast cancer, the more treatable it is.
  2. I’m too young to get breast cancer. It’s true. Most breast cancer appears in women after menopause. But did you know that one in eight breast cancers is diagnosed in women younger than 45? The American Cancer Society recommends women begin getting yearly mammograms at age 40. If you have a family history of breast cancer, or have a mutation of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, talk to your primary care provider to see if you should get a mammogram sooner.
  3. I can’t afford it. Under the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), screening mammograms are free, with no copays or deductibles. Medicare also pays for screening mammograms. In many areas, Providence partners with local agencies to provide free screening mammograms for women 40 and older or diagnostic breast imaging for women of any age with a breast mass. Check with your local facility or follow a link below.
  4. I’m afraid it will hurt. Mammograms can be uncomfortable, but the discomfort is brief. To minimize any pain, schedule your mammogram right after your period when your breasts are less sensitive. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever 45 minutes before the exam and be sure to relax. And remember, a mammogram hurts much less than breast cancer.
  5. My breasts are small, so my risk must be, too. Cancer does not discriminate, and women with small breasts are just as likely as large-breasted women to get breast cancer.
  6. I don’t have a family history, so I’m safe. Actually, 85% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history whatsoever. If you do have a family history of breast cancer, particularly if your mother or sister had it, you have an increased risk of getting breast cancer yourself.

Every three minutes, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. The earlier breast cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat. Sure, mammograms are uncomfortable, but they’re better than the alternative and they could save your life.

Join Providence for Pink the Rink

To learn more, visit the American Cancer Society website or talk to your primary care provider. And be sure to join Providence Regional Medical Center for Pink the Rink at the October 25 Everett Silvertips game at Xfinity Arena. Help us raise funds to fight breast cancer in Snohomish County.

For More Information about Free Mammograms in Your Area

Greater Los Angeles area

Western Montana
Greater Missoula area

Eastern Washington (greater Spokane area)
Northwest Washington (greater Everett area)
Southeast Washington (greater Walla Walla area)
Southwest Washington (Aberdeen, Centralia and Olympia)

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