Most women should have an annual mammogram starting at age 40. Almost one third of American women age 40 and over have not had a mammogram in the past two years.
They think it will hurt
Mammography is probably not going to be a relaxing experience, and most women do experience some discomfort. However, a study of 200 women found that three-quarters of them described the pain as a 4 or less on a scale of 1 to 10. A similar study found that 77% of the women described the experience as painful, but as in the first study, most agreed that the pain was no worse than they had expected.
Women who were anxious about the process were more likely to find it painful, but most women reported that the pain was gone in ten minutes or less. It might be more accurate to describe a mammogram as uncomfortable, rather than painful.
Fear of the result
Women in one of the studies described above said that the worst part of the mammogram was waiting for the results. Some women don’t worry much about breast cancer on a daily basis but find that having a mammogram brings up fears about their health.
Remember, having a mammogram doesn’t change the facts about your health. If you need treatment, your mammogram will help you get that treatment early, when it can do the most good.
Concerns about false negatives or false positives can also create worry for women who get anxious about their mammograms. If you are “called back” after your screening mammogram, it only means the radiologist has seen a change in your tissue. Most of the time the change is benign.
Women with dense breasts should consider screening breast ultrasound in addition to their mammogram to get a more complete picture of their breast health. If you have dense tissue, the radiologist will say so in your results letter.
However, you can reduce a lot of anxiety by choosing the right place to have your mammogram. Make sure you visit a certified breast center. The Breast Center, a MANA Clinic, is award-winning as well as fully certified. This means that the healthcare professionals you work with will be able to provide the best possible experience.
The Breast Center now has four locations, for your convenience. We are now scheduling appointments at our new location in Springdale opening in December 2020. The hours are 7:30 am to 5:00 pm. Make an appointment and you will be able to fit your mammogram in easily.
Screening mammograms take about 15 minutes. A mammogram is a quick procedure. The benefits far outweigh any inconvenience. Even healthy women with no family history of breast cancer can get breast cancer. Catching it early makes treatment simpler and more successful than waiting for symptoms to appear.
Many women worry about the cost of a mammogram. Your insurance often covers the cost, and there are also financial assistance programs for uninsured women in Arkansas. Talk with your doctor about your options.
Just as when we think about time and convenience, any thoughts of the cost of mammograms should be put in perspective by thinking about the potential cost of not having a mammogram. The cost of early treatment of breast cancer is much lower than for treatment at more advanced stages.