During part one and two of our series, we highlighted 10 common excuses women use for why they postpone having an annual screening mammogram. Quite a few involved being scared of the screening process. In our last segment on excuses, we hope to give women the information they need to feel confident that a screening mammogram isn’t something to fear. We don’t want a little worry or a simple excuse to keep someone from scheduling their annual screening mammogram.
It’s true, you do have an increased risk of having breast cancer if your mom or sister had breast cancer. But, it’s important to remember that a family history can start with you. This is why preventive screening is so important. The American Cancer Society states that about 8 out of 10 women who get breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease.
Women are at higher risk if:
- They have close blood relatives with breast cancer
- They have first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) with breast cancer
- They have a father or brother who has had breast cancer
Even so, less than 15% of women who have breast cancer have a family member with the disease. This is another reason why annual screening mammograms are important.
Excuse #2: I don’t feel any lumps.
First of all, pat yourself on the back for doing self-breast exams! Knowing how your breasts look and feel is important and doing monthly self-breast exams is a healthy habit. Unfortunately, breast cancer can start long before a lump is felt. Mammograms are the best tool we have for early detection and 3D mammograms can detect the smallest calcifications that can lead to breast cancer. Screening mammography is the only way to identify cysts or tumors that may be cancer, precancerous, or other conditions that require additional testing.
Monthly self-exams are helpful in identifying how breast tissue feels as you age. Annual screening mammograms (starting at the age of 40) are recommended because of their ability to find and detect changes that a person’s hand may miss.
Excuse #3: I’m scared I’ll get called back for more tests after my screening mammogram.
We agree — finding out you need additional tests after your mammogram is scary. It’s important to recognize that this doesn’t mean you have cancer. It simply means we need to perform additional images on a specific area because we need more information.
Coming back for a diagnostic mammogram or a breast ultrasound allows us to obtain images of the specific area of concern so the radiologists can provide the most accurate interpretation. . These tools can be used to rule out cancer — not just to diagnose it. When you come back to Wake Radiology for additional exams, one of our dedicated breast imaging radiologists will read your images at the time of service so that you will receive your results at the end of your appointment.
Excuse #4: I haven’t been to Wake Radiology before. I went somewhere else for my last mammogram.
As an informed patient, you have a choice in where you go for your screening mammogram. If you select Wake Radiology, we will make every effort (with your permission) to obtain all prior images for comparison. We believe having this historical information allows for more accurate interpretations and less frequent call backs.
As you make your decision about where to have a mammogram, we hope you’ll consider Wake Radiology. We are the Triangle leader in 3D mammography with 10 3D units in our dedicated breast imaging offices. We’ve invested in this technology and training for our technologists and radiologists because we believe in this revolutionary new technology. Plus, with offices across the Triangle, we make it easy to have your screening mammogram on the day and time that’s best for you.
Excuse #5: All mammograms are created equal so it really doesn’t matter where I go.
The diagnosis that comes from a medical image is only as good as the quality of the image. At Wake Radiology, we firmly believe that quality equipment, certified technologists and specialty radiologists are all important factors to consider when choosing a breast imaging facility. Many of our locations use Genius™ 3D mammography units, a revolutionary tool for breast cancer detection. A 3D mammogram provides more clarity when evaluating breast tissue and can reduce call-back rates by 40%. Wake Radiology has more 3D mammography units throughout the Triangle than any other outpatient imaging provider. All of our technologists have the highest levels of training and certifications in mammography and our breast imaging is interpreted by board certified radiologists who are dedicated to breast imaging.
Excuse #6: I don’t have an order from my doctor to get a mammogram.
No problem! In fact, you don’t actually need a doctor’s order to have a screening mammogram. If you’re 40 years old and have seen a doctor within the past 18 months, you can schedule your own procedure. With this screening exam, you can choose where to go and when you have it done.
In fact, most insurance companies will pay 100% for your conventional screening mammogram. Cigna recently announced (August 2016) that they are the first major insurance company to cover 100% of the cost of 3D mammograms.
So, if you haven’t had a screening mammogram within the last 12 months, we encourage you to walk into a Wake Radiology office today or request an appointment to have this potentially life-saving exam.
Excuse #7: I don’t know when to start having a mammogram because the recommendations and guidelines keep changing.
You’re right — information about when to have your first mammogram and then how often you should continue this screening has changed. At Wake Radiology, we continue to believe that high quality, annual mammography starting at age 40 remains a woman’s best chance for early detection of breast cancer and saving lives.
But, you don’t have to take our word for it. We want women to “know more” about their breast health and to be empowered to have conversations with their doctor and loved ones. Check out the resources we’ve compiled to help you learn about screening mammography and breast cancer. Education and early detection is your best protection!