Don’t Be Scared of a Mammogram

Mammograms are important. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Early detection is the key to fighting breast cancer, and mammograms are one of the best tools for early detection.

Many women have questions about getting a mammogram. Even worse, some women don’t get mammograms because they are afraid. To help, Dr. Ben McDaniel, radiologist at Shelby Diagnostic Center, offers some advice about mammograms.

Yes, you do need a mammogram

Specifically, you need a mammogram every year starting at 40 years of age, unless you have a family history of breast cancer. If that is the case, then you may need to start earlier. By starting at age 40, radiologists are able to compare mammograms, which assists in noticing subtle changes should they occur.

That means you should get a mammogram every year

Annual screening gives the greatest mortality reduction for women having regular mammograms.  This is true up to at least age 84, which is the age limit for which we have date from studies.  Cancers detected with biennial screening tend to be larger than with annual screening which limits treatment options.

There is no specific age to stop getting a mammogram

Women of all ages get breast cancer, so a discussion with your physician is needed before you stop getting an annual mammogram. Because many elderly women who forgo screening are more likely to present with higher stage cancers and show reduced survival, the American College of Radiology (ACR) strongly suggests that the benefits of a yearly mammogram continue with advancing age.  The ACR does not recommend stopping screening on the basis of age but rather based on overall health.

There is no need to be scared of the process

A mammogram only takes about fifteen minutes and we try our best to create a warm, welcoming environment. Mammograms may be uncomfortable, but they shouldn’t hurt. A few minutes of discomfort can mean saving your life. If you’re worried, be sure to express your concerns to your mammographer.

If you can, Mammothon during October is a great time to get a mammogram

Mammothon, an event dedicated to screening as many women as possible for breast cancer, is a time when Brookwood Baptist Health offers discounted mammograms at many of our locations during the month of October. While insurance normally covers an annual mammogram, this discounted price is offered as an out-of-pocket price, regardless of insurance coverage. Some locations, like Shelby Diagnostic Center, have decorations, door prizes and more during the month of October as well. To register for a Mammothon appointment, click here.

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