Guest Post: The Importance of Mammograms

According to Cancer.org, more than 200,000 American women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. For women ages 40 and up – or even younger if recommended by a doctor –mammograms can help reduce breast cancer deaths.

Here, learn how the new federal healthcare laws will affect your access to mammograms, as well as the steps you can take to make your mammogram a stress-free experience.

Can I Afford a Mammogram?

Many women may be confused about what health services are covered under the new Affordable Care Act. Under the Affordable Care Act, a woman’s annual preventive healthcare services, which include mammograms and screenings for cervical cancer, are covered by most health plans. The Affordable Care Act also makes recommended preventive services free for people on Medicare. More those on Medicare, mammograms must be given without a co-pay or deductible for all plans started after August 1, 2012.

What Does This Mean for Me?

It means you should take advantage of the services that are provided. The Affordable Care Act understands the importance of preventative care. When it comes to breast cancer, early detection is key, and mammograms are an essential part of identifying breast cancer in its early, treatable stages. In the case that an abnormality is found, a diagnostic mammogram may be prescribed to take additional images and further diagnose the issue.

According to Mammographysaveslives.org, mammography has helped reduce the breast cancer mortality rate in the U.S. by nearly 33 percent since 1990. It’s proof that regular mammograms can truly save lives.

Simple Mammogram Tips

Whether it’s your first or tenth, it’s normal to feel nervous before your mammogram. Here are some simple tips that can help make the experience more efficient and even more comfortable:

  • Many women experience tender breasts during their menstrual cycles, so consider scheduling your mammogram within the two weeks after your menstrual period ends.
  • Wear comfortable clothing that is easy to remove from the waist up.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages before your appointment. Caffeine has been shown to cause small lumps or discomfort in breasts.
  • Do not wear deodorant, antiperspirant, powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts. These substances have been shown to potentially cause inaccuracies in the X-ray film.
  • Consider taking an over-the-counter pain medication prior to your appointment.
  • Be up front with your doctor. Let your doctor know if you have had any issues or concerns since your last mammogram, have breast implants, or any medical history that might affect your mammogram or your overall health.
  • Always voice your questions and concerns. Your doctor is there to help you and welcomes any questions that you have.
  • Before you leave the doctor’s office, be sure to schedule your next annual appointment.

Remember, screening mammograms could be the difference between life and death.  It’s an important opportunity to take control of your health. Make your annual mammogram appointment educate others about the importance of mammograms.

This article was contributed by NorthShore University HealthSystem, a comprehensive, fully integrated healthcare delivery system that serves the Chicago region. With leading hospitals in Chicago and the surrounding area, NorthShore provides screening and diagnostic mammogram procedures to help prevent and diagnosis breast cancer.

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