We get it. Your calendar is packed. Shopping. Traveling. Wrapping. Parties. Get-togethers. Dinners. Children’s school activities. And more.
But there’s something else that’s important to pencil in this holiday season (and before you ring in the new year): a mammogram.
The case for getting that mammogram, now
Dr. Patricia Turner, the section chief of women’s imaging at Florida Hospital explains that one of the biggest reasons women don't get mammograms is because they're afraid of what the results might be. But in reality, she says, “Breast cancer should be detected as early as possible so that it can be treated with greater survival rates.”
Another barrier (which is especially true during the bustling holiday season) is time. “Women are busy,” says Dr. Turner. But she adds that women need to realize that their health, including a regular mammogram, is very important. “ If we find a breast cancer early, it's going to take a lot less time out of their lives then if it's found late.”
Making mammograms convenient
To make it more accessible, Florida Hospital has made mammograms more convenient for women and their packed calendars.
“We have developed a lot of places where you can get after-hours screening mammograms or weekend appointments,” explains Dr. Turner. “We even have valet parking at many facilities, so it takes even less time — it generally only takes about thirty minutes to get a screening mammogram at our imaging locations.”
Making convenience a guiding principle is one way that Florida Hospital helps women prioritize their health, explains Dr. Lori Boardman, executive director for women's health at Florida Hospital for Women.
“We not only want to raise awareness with women about how important it is to put their health first, but we also want to give them access to be able to do the things that are important to their well-being,” Dr. Boardman said.
Here’s what convenient mammograms mean at Florida Hospital:
- No prescription or doctor’s note required for most patients without symptoms
- Same-day, evening and weekend appointments available
- 13 Central Florida mammogram locations
- 30-minute appointments
Knowing what to expect
Sometimes, we put off the things that we don’t quite understand. So, knowing what to expect from a mammogram can empower you to overcome the unknown and make time for this important breast cancer screening tool. Here’s what the process will feel like.
Most women (those who have no symptoms such as lumps or discharge) receive what’s called a “screening mammogram.” Because the breast is round, two views are required to take a complete picture.
To avoid blurring the image, the breast is held in place snugly. It shouldn’t hurt, but technologists are happy to reposition you if it’s uncomfortable.
If you’re normally sensitive, try to get your mammogram 10 to 14 days after your period starts. Staying off caffeine for the prior week can also help.
“I know that can be difficult for some women, but a lot of people say that decreases their breast tenderness,” Dr. Turner said.
These mammograms are usually read within about 24 hours. It may take a bit longer if the hospital needs to access your previous records.
A second type of mammogram is called a “diagnostic mammogram,” and it’s used to further evaluate a symptom or area spotted in a screening mammogram. It’s similar to the first type, and is basically a closer examination of a specific area.
Further tests, including an ultrasound, may be recommended for women who have dense breasts, as about half of women do. This is important because having denser breasts — meaning more non-fatty tissue — makes it more difficult for mammograms to spot problems.
Moreover, those with high risk for breast cancer, perhaps because of a family history or a genetic mutation, may receive an Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, exam. Both the MRI, which scans the body using magnets, and the ultrasound are noninvasive, painless procedures.
And what if they find something?
For the vast majority of women, getting a mammogram means peace of mind. However, many advancements have been made in detecting and treating breast cancer.
If doctors do find something, you’re never alone. A team — including surgeons, the radiologist and cancer specialists — will collaborate with you to develop the best course of action with team of support around you every step of the way.
“I just want every woman to know that being diagnosed with breast cancer is no longer a death sentence because 98 percent of our patients survive now,” Dr. Turner said. “Please come in and get your screening mammograms so we can detect it early when it's still confined to the breast.”
Given all the demands on your time, it’s easy to put aside your own health, but a 30-minute mammogram might be the best gift you could ever give to yourself and your loved ones this holiday season.
Schedule your mammogram today or by calling (407) 303-2273.