There are many reasons (excuses) women give me for not getting a mammogram. “I’m too fat, when I lose 10 pounds I’ll go.” “They’re too small. There can’t possibly be anything bad brewing in there.” Or this one, “I breast fed so I am protected from breast cancer.” I have heard it all and I absolutely sympathize. After all, who wants to stand exposed with only a flimsy gown on in a cold room only to have one’s breasts squished hard in some barbaric looking machine? But, make no mistake, the benefits of getting a yearly mammogram abound once your breasts are about 40 years old. It still remains the single best screening tool we have.
The Top 5 Excuses
So what are the top 5 excuses, from least to most heard? And, what do I have to say about them?
5. “I had one once and it was normal so I don’t have to go anymore.”
Mammograms are needed once a year once you are of screening age. And we look for changes over time which may be our only clue that something may be growing in the breast. You know, they say that diamonds are a girl’s best friend? Well, they’re right. But so are yearly mammograms for comparison.
4. “It’s too much radiation.”
If you were to fly from either U.S. coast to Denver and back a couple of times, you would get the same amount of radiation as you would from a mammogram. In other words, the radiation dose from a mammogram is almost equivalent to normal background radiation you are exposed to in your daily lives. And, you are not going to deny yourself a vacation trip to Denver, are you? Don’t deny yourself the life-saving trip to the women’s center for a mammogram.
3. “I don’t feel any lumps so nothing is wrong.”
Wrong. Mammograms are for all the things we can’t feel. Cancerous lumps we detect only by feel account for about 4% of all the breast cancers out there. Ninety-six percent are not felt (not palpable) and 90% of those are picked up on a mammogram.
2. “I’m outta time.”
Let’s face it; we are the rocks of Gibraltar of our family, the cornerstone, the hub, the very foundation of our family’s well being. And, we are the procrastinators, worrywarts, and martyrs too! I say to you this: If you yourself are not well, how are you supposed to care of your family?
1. And the most common excuse I hear is, “No one in my family has breast cancer so I am not at risk.”
Only 5% or so of all breast cancers are “hereditary.” Most are spontaneous mutations that you and your pedigree have no control over.
Mammograms Save Lives
So I implore you to do yourself a favor, give yourself a gift, get checked with mammography once a year. No more excuses. It could save your life.
How do you encourage your patients to get mammograms?