Do We Need to Talk More About Mammograms?

Written by yvonnethornton on May 13th, 2013

It seems like a no-brainer that women should receive screening for breast cancer with a mammogram. It is recommended by most doctors that women, starting between the ages of thirty and forty, begin to schedule their mammograms every two years. It is at about this time that breast cancer becomes a serious risk to most women, and it will remain a risk to most women until well after menopause. However, as serious as this issue is, there are still a lot of women who decide not to get mammograms. Why is that?

For patients, there is a real fear associated with mammograms. They can be uncomfortable, and there are always stories getting out about false diagnoses of breast cancer being made. In fact, it is likely that a lot of women will need to undergo a biopsy to determine whether a spot found in a mammogram is cancerous or not—however, the benefits of a potential diagnosis early on, before cancer has a chance to grow and spread, far outweighs the potential downside of having to undergo a biopsy when no cancer is present.

In addition, there are unfortunately still many women out there who treat the age of 70 as a magical cut-off point when they no longer need breast cancer screenings. However, most women who get breast cancer are over 50, and a large number of these are over 70. Senior women are not being told how important it is to receive a regular mammogram, as this study indicates.  A large number of younger women are also unaware of the importance of checking their breasts regularly with home examinations. It is important for women of all ages to be aware of the fact that they are at risk, no matter what their age, background, or current health.


– Yvonne S. Thornton, M. D., M. P. H.


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