Getting a mammogram is an important step in early breast cancer detection. While those with a family history of breast cancer may start earlier, the American College of Radiology (ACR) and Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) recommend that women start getting annual mammograms at age 40. The American Cancer Society (ACS), US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), ACR and SBI agree that this approach saves the most lives.
If you’ve been putting off a mammogram, consider these five reasons you should schedule one now.
Mammograms are accurate
Mammography has advanced rapidly in recent years, meaning you can trust your results when you take advantage of cutting-edge technology.
“The newest equipment, 3D mammography, allows us to better detect breast cancer by up to about 80% in comparison to regular digital mammography,” according to medical imaging provider SimonMed.
With 3D mammography, the radiologist not only has more information to better detect cancer but the level of information means you’re less likely to need a follow-up appointment to get additional views.
Many mammograms are low-cost or free
Most insurance companies, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover the cost of mammograms. In fact, since the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, new health insurance plans are required to cover screening mammograms with no co-payment for people age 50 and up, including transgender people.
“Your health insurance company can’t limit sex-specific recommended preventive services based on your sex assigned at birth, gender identity, or recorded gender — for example, a transgender man who has residual breast tissue or an intact cervix getting a mammogram or pap smear,” according to HealthCare.gov.
Additionally, your insurance may cover mammograms before age 50 if your doctor recommends them.
Breast cancer can affect anyone
Regardless of your family or health history, you can develop breast cancer. Perhaps more surprising is that smaller breasts don’t mean lower risk.
“The simple truth is that there have been no large, peer-reviewed studies that support breast size as a factor in the development of breast cancer,” according to Verywell Health. “While there has been some research suggesting a link, there have been just as many which have drawn the opposite conclusion.”
Mobile screening is an option
One reason you may put off getting a mammogram is that you’re busy or don’t have easy access to a clinic. Fortunately, it’s relatively simple to take part in an event — called Mobile On-site Mammography, or M.O.M. — that brings the screening to you, or even to schedule one for your community.
The service, provided by SimonMed, is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is covered by many insurance providers. The exam takes only 15 minutes, meaning you can fit it in without much hassle.
Early detection improves outcomes
You may assume that an absence of pain, lumps, or other symptoms means you don’t need a mammogram. However, a screening can detect cancer before you notice any symptoms. In fact, it can detect cancer in a tumor as small as a grain of rice.
“When breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage (there is no sign that the cancer has spread outside of the breast), the 5-year relative survival rate is 100%,” according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Early detection also means a surgeon may be able to remove just the lump rather than the entire breast.
For more information and to schedule your mammogram, visit SimonMed, where you’ll find care in a supportive and service-oriented environment.