Mammogram Myths
September 18, 2020

Mammograms are the gold standard for breast cancer screening. In fact, today’s mammograms allow doctors to detect up to 40% more invasive breast cancers than before. 

Yet myths surrounding this life-saving screening may prevent some from getting mammograms as recommended. Read these mammogram myths to see what you know—and what you can learn. 


Myth #1: I Don’t Need a Mammogram Unless I Feel a Lump 

Reality: You don’t need to have any symptoms, including a lump, to have a mammogram. CORA recommends mammograms for every woman every year starting at age 40. Women whose breast cancer is detected at an early stage have a 98% or higher survival rate in the first five years. Our goal is to detect cancer before you can feel it.


Myth #2: I Don’t Have to Worry Because There’s No History of Cancer in my Family

Reality: 85% of all new breast cancers are diagnosed in women without any known risk factors or family history of breast cancer. Only 5-10% of cancers have a genetic or hereditary component. Regular mammograms help ensure early breast cancer detection, when there are more treatment options and a better chance of survival. 


Myth #3: I Had a Normal Mammogram, So I Don’t Need Another One

Reality: The past doesn’t determine the present or future—especially where cancer is concerned. Yearly mammograms help detect cancer early when the chance of successful treatment is highest. 


Myth #4: If  a Mammogram Detects Something, It’s Already Too Late

Reality: We understand that anxiety about the unknown—including an abnormal finding on a mammogram—can be stressful. Just remember that not all abnormal findings are cancer and, more importantly, that detecting cancer during its initial stages offers a five-year survival rate of 98% or higher.


Myth #5: The Radiation Will Give Me Cancer

Reality: The radiation you’re exposed to during a mammogram is only a fraction of the annual level of radiation everyone receives on earth from natural background radiation. Mammogram radiation exposure is extremely low and well below the acceptable limits defined by the FDA. 


Myth #6: They Hurt

Reality: Because compression is needed to detect subtle abnormalities in the breast, some women experience minor discomfort during a mammogram exam, especially if their breasts are tender. Others experience no discomfort at all. 


Myth #7: I Don’t Have Time

Reality: You’re busy. Your calendar—and your plate—are full. But mammograms take only 30 minutes on average, well worth your time for something that could save your life. We can help you schedule a mammogram before, during or after work or other commitments. Just give us a call. 


Myth #8: Only Older Women Need Them

Reality: We recommend annual screenings beginning at age 40. However, women with a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors may need to be screened earlier. Women with family members diagnosed before age 40 are especially at risk. If you’re considered to be high-risk, you can have genetic testing to determine your actual risks for breast cancer.


Myth #9: They Aren’t Effective

Reality: Mammography is most effective tool for breast cancer screening. Since annual screening mammography became available in the early 1990s, breast cancer deaths have been reduced by 39%. Mammograms are the only proven screening test to show such staggering results.


Myth #10: I Can’t Get a Mammogram Because I Have Breast Implants

Reality: Mammography is safe for women with breast implants. Most breast implants are designed to withstand hundreds of pounds of pressure. A mammogram generates an average of 20 pounds of pressure. When you schedule your appointment, please let the scheduler know that you have breast implants, as additional time may be required for your exam.

Learn more about our mammography services

Trust the region’s only Breast Center of Excellence.

Central Oregon Radiology Associates (CORA) has the highest level of accreditation available. We offer the most comprehensive breast imaging care in Central and Eastern Oregon, fellowship-and sub-specialty-trained physicians who specialize in women’s imaging and breast cancer screening, and fast, convenient appointments. Learn more about our mammography services

Make your mammogram appointment today. It just might save your life. 

Call 541-382-6633.