Missing Mammograms

During the past year, many of us missed family holiday gatherings, haircuts, planned vacations, graduations, and proms. We’ll make it up to ourselves, or with creativity we already have. But a new study shows that missing just one mammogram can have serious consequences. If you’re one of the many women missing mammograms from the pandemic year, you should go ahead and reschedule, rather than waiting.

The study

The study looked at data from almost 550,000 female cancer patients in two groups: those who had mammograms in each of the two years previous to their diagnosis, and those who had skipped one of those mammograms. All the women had cancer, but some had missed a recent mammogram and others had not.

The two groups had different outcomes. The study continued to watch the women for 10 years following their diagnosis, as well as considering the two previous years of routine mammograms. After ten years, just half as many of the women in the no-skips group had died of breast cancer.

The researchers looked at all the women in the study, and concluded that women who had not skipped a mammogram were diagnosed earlier than those who had. The women who skipped a mammogram were more likely to get their diagnoses when the cancer was larger and more advanced.

What does this mean for you?

If you have a missing mammogram — an appointment that you skipped, an appointment that was cancelled because mammograms were delayed, or an appointment that you weren’t able to keep — you should reschedule that appointment immediately.

We may wait until next Thanksgiving to make up for our missed family gathering. You might wait until your next vacation to make up for the travel you postponed. But missing mammograms should not wait until they come up again on your reminders list. 

Remember, your insurance might have changed since last year, or the wait time might be longer because many of us are catching up. Give yourself a little extra time to sort out your new appointment. Stick with it, though! Your new appointment will get you back on track.