Seven Reasons You Might Be Avoiding Your Mammogram

Are these excuses holding you back?

by Laura Nightengale, OSF HealthCare
Finding breast cancer early reduces your risk of dying from the disease by 25-30% or more.

Mammograms are the most effective tool in detecting early breast cancers. This simple series of x-rays is proven to save lives, yet many women avoid getting screened. Are these excuses holding you back from getting your mammogram?

  1. “I don’t have time for a mammogram.” Getting your mammogram should take only about half an hour. “It takes 10 minutes to register and 10 to 20 minutes to get a mammogram,” says Vicki Shanklin, manager of breast center operations at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center. Getting your mammogram has never been easier for women who live or work in downtown Peoria. The Breast Imaging Center, located just inside the door at OSF Saint Francis, offers maximum convenience for your busy schedule. 
  2. “I can’t afford a mammogram.” Contact your insurance provider if you have questions about whether your screening will be covered—you might be pleasantly surprised. Medicaid and Medicare cover regular screenings, as do most commercial insurance companies.
  3. “Mammograms are painful.” Mammograms may be uncomfortable, but should not be painful. “If it ever reaches the point that it’s painful, please just tell your technologist,” Shanklin says. “She will work to make you as comfortable as possible while still getting excellent imaging for the early detection of breast cancer.”
  4. “I’m afraid. What if they find something?” “The benefit of annual screening mammography is to look for changes from year to year,” notes Shanklin. “That’s how we look for early cancer.” Many times, changes to breast tissue are benign—just normal signs of aging.
  5. “Breast cancer doesn’t run in my family.” While certain factors (such as family history) can increase your risk of developing breast cancer, they are not the only issues to consider. “Most cancers that we diagnose are in women with no risk factors at all,” Shanklin explains. “The fact that you are a woman, and aging, are still your most prevalent risks for breast cancer.” If you wonder what your risk factors are, schedule a risk assessment with your healthcare provider.
  6. “I’ve had normal mammograms in the past. Why do I need to keep going back?” Annual screenings are an important tool in detecting cancers early—before they have a chance to spread. “The time to find something is when it’s tiny, before you ever feel it. The smaller it is, the easier it is to remove it or treat it,” says Shanklin.
  7. “Mammograms are for older women.” All women ages 40 and up should get a yearly screening mammogram, but some women benefit from getting them sooner. “Talk with your doctor on their risk factors and anxiety levels. Some women worry and just want to know. If you have a family history, you’ll want to start your mammography 10 years prior to when your loved one was diagnosed.” PM

To schedule your mammogram with OSF HealthCare in Peoria, Washington or Morton, call (309) 683-5522.