It’s October and in case you haven’t noticed, the color pink is popping up everywhere. NFL players sport bright pink gloves, skyscrapers and bridges glow pink in the night sky and it seems every food product in the supermarket has a pink ribbon. I even spotted an ad for a roofer in my local “coupon clipper” that had a pink ribbon and offered to donate a portion of all jobs in October to breast cancer research.
I’m ambivalent about the pink ribbon campaign. I hope it reminds people about the threat of breast cancer, but I wonder how effective it really is. But that’s a discussion for another day.
What DOES work – is screening mammograms. I used to dread having my breasts squished into pancakes, but ever since I heard the words, “You have breast cancer” I don’t care about the pain. I want accuracy.
And so, in keeping with October’s Breast Cancer Awareness theme, I offer you a guest opinion below that gives you some compelling reasons to get a mammogram.
5 Reasons to Get a Mammogram –Philip J Reed, on behalf of Texoma Medical Center
For women, getting a regular mammogram can be a good means of detecting troublesome changes in their bodies. Over the years, researchers have learned that the screening can be useful for spotting more than one medical condition, making this resource even more helpful on the healthcare front. Here are some reasons you should consider getting a mammogram.
- Breast Cancer Detection
Mammograms are perhaps best known for their ability to detect breast cancer. Indeed, the screening may be life saving because it can reveal cancer in very early stages and afford a woman more treatment options and a greater chance of survival. Women in their forties or older, or those with risk factors for breast cancer, should get a mammogram every one or two years. Breast cancer risks increase with age, and your doctor will be able to tell you whether you need a mammogram more often or sooner in age than usual.
- Circumstances Change
It’s always good to maintain a routine schedule for getting a mammogram because your health can change from one screening to the next. Having one normal mammogram does not mean your next mammogram will be problem-free. Additionally, mammograms can detect breast cancer up to two years before clinical exams.
- Technology is Improving
Pain is a major factor that discourages some women from obtaining their mammograms. However, improvements like breast cushions are making the process more comfortable; digital mammography has also made images of the breast clearer, with less need for repeat images to be taken. Additionally, the screening can be completed in a matter of minutes. The technology has also helped doctors spot masses as small as grains of rice.
Recognizing the importance of having a mammogram, some facilities are taking steps that will allow more women to come in for health screenings. Call your doctor to learn whether evening appointments are available for mammograms, or what other options exist where you live to ensure you can have your mammogram regularly.
- Finding Heart Disease
Statistics show that in the United States, heart disease is a more deadly killer of women than breast cancer, but breast cancer screening is often more aggressively pursued than a cholesterol and blood pressure check, WebMD has written. However, a mammogram can detect small deposits along breast arteries called breast arterial calcifications. In some cases, these calcifications are also present in women with heart disease. In fact, by visiting regularly a hospital or clinic with extensive women’s services, you can catch (and address) a great variety of potential issues…before they become problems.
Check with your insurance if you have private health insurance—or check with Medicare if you have that type of coverage—to learn what mammogram costs may be paid for you and what you will need to pay as you continue to take charge of your health.
Thanks Philip! And if these reasons aren’t enough – here’s one last thought. Just do it. As someone who was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer (stage one) I was blessed to be able to keep my breast AND avoid chemo. We have come a long way in breast conservation, but YOU play the biggest role.