My mother talked very candidly to me about her annual mammogram while I was growing up. I assumed that this was a normal part of the mother-daughter relationship. Still, I realized that our openness about mammography was partly due to her mother/my grandmother sadly dying of breast cancer at a relatively young age. That was when early detection was not as prevalent as it has been in recent years.
I have since learned that many women, whether due to fears, anxiety, or other reasons, do not get their annual mammogram, even if they are of age. Having begun my yearly mammogram screenings at the age of 35 due to a family history of breast cancer. I can attest that the technology and mammography equipment we have today puts any concerns or discomfort to rest… and even if they didn’t, the importance of early detection far outweighs any apprehension towards the procedure.
Women ages 40 and older may be asking themselves, “Do I really need to have a mammogram?” Consider the following reasons why this could be the single most important test you get this year.
M ammograms save lives.
As a woman, wife, and mother, I want to live this beautiful life as long as possible. Women who receive an annual screening decrease their chance of dying from breast cancer by 30 percent.
E arly detection decreases cancer risk.
Breast cancer can often be present even before a lump can be detected during self-breast examinations. Mammography can detect cancer at early stages, and once detected early at a localized stage, a woman’s survival rate is 98%.
Our risk of breast cancer increases as we age.
About 80% of women diagnosed with breast cancer each year are aged 45 or older, and about 43% are ages 65 or above.
Mammograms do not take much time.
Mammography technology has improved leaps and bounds in recent years. Most mammograms only take about 20 minutes, even with the use of 3-D imaging, and are not as uncomfortable and awkward as they used to be. (I have never felt pain with any of mine. An experienced and professional mammography technician will not only put you at ease during your procedure but will also know how to best position your body for the least amount of discomfort as possible.)
Be a role model.
Other women, especially ones who have trepidations and worries about having their own mammogram, are watching you. Encourage them by having yours. This test may save your life, and it may also save theirs!