Hello, ladies, and Happy Breast Cancer Awareness Month! It’s your friendly neighborhood radiologist here to remind you why there’s no good excuse to skip your mammogram this year. Here are a few reasons NOT to avoid coming in for your annual screening exam before the year is up:
1. No one in my family has had breast cancer, so I don’t worry about it.
Truth: 80 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have NO family history of breast or other cancers.
2: I heard mammograms don’t save lives.
Truth: Since its widespread implementation in the 1980s, mammography has lowered the risk of dying of breast cancer by around 35 percent. Cancers detected by screening are more often smaller thus more treatable than those detected as a lump. Five year survival rates of the smallest cancers is 100 percent compared to 22 percent for more advanced larger cancers. In other words, thanks to the help of screening mammography, breast cancer is now often curable.
3. I have dense breasts so mammograms don’t work on me.
Truth: Mammography remains the gold standard for early detection in women with dense breasts. All data proving its efficacy has included women with dense breast tissue. New technology continues to improve detection rates in the setting of dense tissue. State-of-the-art 3D Mammography (aka Breast Tomosynthesis), is now available at the Carson Tahoe Breast Center and Carson Tahoe Minden Medical Center.
4. Radiation from mammography actually causes cancer.
Truth: The amount of radiation from a mammogram is nearly a tenth of that which you will receive from nature alone this year. Experts place your risk of getting cancer from imaging studies at 0.001-0.0001 percent, far lower than your lifetime risk of dying of cancer (20 percent).
5. My doctor didn’t mention it so I must not need it.
Truth: Like you, doctors are busy and sometimes forget things. Every major medical society in the U.S. endorses the American Cancer Society recommendations of yearly screening mammograms beginning at age 40, for the rest of your life.
6. They are painful!
Truth: OK, so maybe this one is somewhat true. But, those few seconds of discomfort may lead to a lifetime regained by early detection.
7. I don’t have time.
Truth: Not only does Carson Tahoe offer quick and convenient access to mammography, but appointment times begin as early as 6:55 a.m. through 5:25 p.m. Monday thru Friday.
8. I can’t afford it.
Truth: Federal Law (the Affordable Care Act) provides mammograms be given without a co-pay or deductible in plans starting after 8/1/2012 and Medicare covers 100 percent. Local organizations also dedicate funds to helping with any additional costs of diagnostic mammography, biopsy and cancer treatment.
There’s only one of you and you deserve the best care possible. Don’t let any obstacles get in the way of your regular screening mammograms.
Early detection saves lives. To schedule a mammogram, call 775-445-5500.