Excuses for not getting a mammogram
Ok, people. This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Otherwise known and "Save the Ta Ta's" month.
It's not simply about wearing pink, although that's cool and everything, no question. Pink rocks.
A few quick facts:
Breast cancer is the #1 cancer in women.
It KILLS over 40,000 women per year.
1 in 8 women will be affected by breast cancer.
And yes, fellas. Guys can get breast cancer, too.
What about a new study that questions the value of mammography? Look, here's what we know, and here's what the preponderance of research tells us: Mammograms save lives. Period. There's new data suggesting that we might be picking breast cancer up super early in the stage just prior to invasive breast cancer, and maybe this is "over-estimating" the cancer?
If it's there, why not fix it early? Who wants to take the chance and wait? Seriously.
So how about all the reasons why folks don't want to get their mammograms. Let's go down the list:
#1) It hurts.
Ok. Wah. Your tattoo that took 2 days and a gazillion needle pokes hurt way worse than a 2 minute boobie squish. If you're really that worried, take an ibuprofen 45 minutes before the mammogram. It'll help.
And you know what? Recovery from a mastectomy hurts a hell of a lot more than a mammogram. Just sayin'.
#2) I don't have any breasts.
Yup. I know what you mean. I'm the queen of no boob/lateral boob. But here's the thing: if you got the girls, no matter how petite they are, then you have the potential for breast cancer. Get screened.
#3) What about waiting until I'm 50/60/70/80?
The majority of studies are in agreement. Start at age 40. Get tested at least every 2 years (IMHO and several other studies, test yearly) until age 50, then yearly thereafter.
#4) What if they find something?
Dude. Really? First of all, please reference my prior blog post entitled: I hate my right breast. You can read all about the crazypants insanity that happens with an abnormal mammogram. Yeah, the process and the worry totally sucks. But you know what sucks worse? Not detecting breast cancer until it's too late.
And wouldn't you rather find something when it's itty bitty and easily fixable rather than wait until it's super bad and spread to other areas?
#5) I don't have a family history, so I don't need one.
Thank you for playing, gentle reader. The majority of new breast cancer cases? NO FAMILY HISTORY. Let me repeat that for those of you in the back row: Your lack of family history is a crappy reason to avoid mammography.
6) What about other tests I read about/saw on Dr. Oz/my cousin mentioned like ultrasound and thermography?
Ultrasound has its place but not as a screening test. The research shows ultrasound is a horrible screening test. The only reason we use it is when there is a lump and we want to see if it's fluid-filled or solid. Then an ultrasound helps.
Thermography? As much as holistic health folks like to tout thermography, if you look at honest-to-pete data, it's evident that thermography misses most breast cancer and calls things cancer that aren't. In a nutshell: it's useless. Actually, it's more than useless -- it's potentially dangerous.
#7) What if the machine loses power while my boob is stuck in there?
That's what the backup generator is for.
#8) If I have something, I don't want to know about it.
Really? You have kids and maybe grandkids and stuff to live for, and you don't want to participate in this thing called life with them? That's selfish.
Also, what a not-great example you are to them, neglecting your own care.
We have one life to live. It's your choices whether you elect to suffer through portions of it, or whether you deal with stuff, recover and lead a healthy happy life thereafter. It's your call.
My job is to tell patients what's the best thing do to, medically-speaking, for their particular set of circumstances. Whether folks take my advice or ignore it is entirely up to them.
#9) It's expensive.
Nope. Free. Even on crappy deductible care. Free. And if for some weird reason it isn't free, there are ton of state-funded breast and cervical cancer screening programs that will provide FREE testing.
Have I mentioned that it's FREE?
#10) I'm busy.
Welp. You'll have even less free time if you have to have radiation daily for 28 days followed by shitty chemo weekly for the next 4 months.
#bonus) I can't feel any lumps, so I must be fine.
Oh contraire, mon frère. The first clinical sign of breast cancer? NOTHING. That's right, people. No lumps or bumps or orange-peel skin (it's caused 'peau d'orange', if you want the fancy schmancy term), or bloody nipple discharge or axillary lymph node enlargement. NOTHING. If you can feel the lump, it's most likely past stage 1 and moving on its way to being a stage pain-in-the-ass.
In conclusion, GET YOUR MAMMOGRAM YEARLY. Ask your doctor to set it up. Do it now!
If you know anyone who has been affected by breast cancer, at least do the testing in their honor. Show that their ordeal had a benefit -- that you learned from their experiences and want to make your own life better as a result of what they went through.
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Author, daydreamer, and practitioner of trying very hard to duct tape folks together and help when I can.
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