Doctors are concerned because women in the U.S. are getting mammograms at declining rates. If the trend continues, death rates from breast cancer could rise.
A study in the journal, Cancer, cites three major reasons: first, the expense; second, doubts about the benefits of mammography; and third is discomfort.
Gina Libertore manages the Breast Center at Sunrise. When she's out in the community at health fairs, she finds a common concern among women who are putting off their annual mammograms.
"And I ask, when was your last mammogram, and they say three years ago. And I say why, and they say it just hurts really bad," said Libertore.
That discomfort is why Las Vegas resident Sharon Craig, who used to make mammograms an annual routine, began to put it off as did some of her friends.
"I think its more of the uncomfort. It could be painful at times, having a mammogram. And they just don't want to go through that and they feel that they're fine. So it's not necessary," said Craig.
But Libertore says there have been recent improvements starting with digital mammography.
"For some ladies, it appears the exam actually goes faster for them. The compression doesn't last as long. They say that makes a noticeable difference in the discomfort from the exam," said Libertore.
Also they're now using what's called a mammo-pad -- attached to the machine that takes away the coldness of the medical equipment.
"Then when the compression is happening onto their breast, it doesn't feel as tight and uncomfortable and allows for a little bit of a give. And it makes a big difference for the ladies," said Libertore.
From the perspective of Las Vegas radiologist, Douglas Sides, the early detection of breast cancer should outweigh the discomfort of having a mammogram.
"What we're looking for is cancer that's at its earliest most treatable point in time, where you can treat it with very successful surgical options. And most of the time with a cure," said Dr. Sides.
Libertore says it's also less uncomfortable if menstruating women schedule their mammogram for one week after their period.
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