Do you know what the two biggest risk factors for breast cancer are? Being female and getting older—which make them risk factors no woman can avoid!
We’ll always be women. And as much as we may try to forestall the effects of aging, there’s no stopping tomorrow. But even with these inevitable risk factors, one in three women chooses to not be screened for breast cancer by getting an annual mammogram.
Since 2000, increases in the number of women who have received mammograms have leveled off and are beginning to drop off again. In some cases, there may be a good explanation. With an economy and job market that continue to struggle, more and more women are uninsured or underinsured, and co-pays are higher for people with insurance. Also, many women wait to have their mammogram at the recommendation of their physician, instead of being proactive. (A physician referral is not required to schedule a mammogram.)
But would you believe that some of the sharpest declines in mammography rates have been among women who have medical coverage and a steady income? It’s true. And it may be because there’s a mistaken belief that a woman’s risk for breast cancer is lower than it is or that mammograms are more scary, expensive, or time-consuming than they really are.
The truth is that breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. It’s doesn’t care about how young you feel. If you’re 40 or older, take the time to save your life. Get your annual mammogram. You can’t eliminate the risk. But you can know for sure.