Breast Cancer Awareness: The Fears vs The Realities of Mammograms

breast cancer myth vs reality

Simply the thought of getting a mammogram can be incredibly scary for so many women. So scary, in fact, that many women will avoid even the discussion of mammograms with their Phoenix doctor. Recent studies have shown that as many as 50% of insured women who should be getting mammograms are not getting them. At Family Practice Specialists, we understand this fear, and the many other reasons that are given for avoiding getting that very important screening. But, as family physicians who all have our own families, we do our very best to ease those fears. If you came into our offices today with a fear of mammograms, here’s what we’d say:


Fear: If I don’t have cancer, I will be exposed to unnecessary radiation.

Reality: The radiation used in mammograms is extremely small. In reality, a digital mammography uses the lowest radiation dose required to produce clear exam images. Because mammograms are completed infrequently, the radiation risk is nearly non-existent.


Fear: Mammograms are too painful.

Reality: The truth is; mammograms are uncomfortable, and in a fearful setting where your mind is already in distress, mammograms can be very uncomfortable. Mammograms should not be scheduled when your breasts are sensitive. But, with that said, mammograms should not be painful. Compression does have to occur in order to generate the most complete image of the area, but with advances in technology the discomfort should be quick and less uncomfortable than previous generations.


Fear: It’s too expensive.

Reality: Mammograms are now fully covered by the Affordable Care Act with no deductibles and no copays. Medicare also covers mammograms.


Fear: My breasts are so dense.

Reality: With advances in technology, mammograms are becoming better at finding issues in denser breasts. If your mammograms is not readable because of dense breasts, your Phoenix doctor might recommend an ultrasound.


Fear: They might find something.

Reality: According to WebMD, 80% of callbacks on mammograms amount to nothing. Eight out of ten mammograms come back completely clear of cancerous tumors. If there is something to be given a closer look, it will be there whether you have the mammogram or not. Wouldn’t you rather know and treat it then to be left in the dark?


During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Family Practice Specialists would like to remind you how crucial it is to do your monthly breast exams and make that yearly appointment for a mammogram. If you are over the age of 40, talk to your Phoenix doctor about scheduling a mammogram today.

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