Here at Levana Bratique, we are all about self care. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let’s talk about caring for our breasts.
Every woman, no matter our age, should do breast self-exams each month, but women over 40 should also get a mammogram. Annual mammograms can detect cancer early, when it is most treatable, and can show changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them. By catching cancers early, mammograms can also prevent the need for extensive treatment for advanced cancers, and improve chances of breast conservation. Current guidelines recommend that women receive annual mammograms starting at age 40 — even if you have no symptoms or family history of breast cancer.
If you’re younger than 40 but have risk factors for breast cancer, you might need mammograms, too; ask for your doctor’s recommendation.
For every 1,000 women who have a screening mammogram:
- 100 are recalled to get more mammography or ultrasound images
- 20 are recommended for a needle biopsy
- 5 are diagnosed with breast cancer
Never had your mams grammed, and are nervous about it? It's true, it's not the most comfortable feeling, but don't let that keep you from getting it done. This link walks you through how to prepare and what you can expect.
Whatever your age, don’t avoid mammograms because of their cost. If you’re 40 or older, the Affordable Care Act requires your insurer to cover screening mammograms with no co-payment. If you don’t have insurance or your insurance doesn’t cover mammograms, the resources below may help you find a low-cost or free mammogram (or help with the cost).
The National Breast Cancer Foundation partners with medical facilities across the country to provide free mammograms and diagnostic breast care services to underserved women. Click here to search for a location near you.
The Komen Breast Care Helpline can help you find low-cost options in your area. Call the helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET.
If you are in the Pittsburgh area, Allegheny Health Network is offering free walk in mammograms at several locations on October 5 and October 24. You can find more information here.
This website lists clinics that offer free or low cost mammograms in Pennsylvania.