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Mammograms Matter (transcript)

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 Wendy: Yeah I think it’s always a thought that's in the back of everyone’s mind, about getting breast cancer.

Susan: My grandmother passed of breast cancer, my aunt has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Elayne: I do know people who have had breast cancer, and who have passed away from breast cancer and who have survived breast cancer. And it is a huge concern as a woman.

Joanne Armstrong, MD: Breast cancer is very common. During the course of a woman’s lifetime she has about a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer, so it’s a very common disease for women.

Corinne: I get my mammograms every year, I do self-checks. Very concerned. Too many women have it.

Susan: I would say probably within my smaller group of friends, we’re pretty much educated about the disease and do get yearly mammograms.

Francisca: When I had my first mammogram it was because my doctor mentioned to me that women age 40 should get a mammogram to be screened for breast cancer. Because a mammogram can show a tumor that can be cancerous. And you might have cancer and you might not know it and it cannot be felt. I didn’t feel that I had a tumor on my right breast. It was a surprise because there ws no cancer in my family. It was a big surprise.

Dr. Armstrong: The majority of women who develop breast cancer do not have a family history of breast cancer. Between 70-80% of women who develop breast cancer, in fact, do not have a family history so it’s very important that women understand that the absence of a family history does not protect them from breast cancer.

Corinne: I don’t understand why they’re not getting the mammograms. Do they hurt? Maybe just a little bit.

Mercedes: There’s a little pain but not something you can’t accept. So it’s good.

Susan: The experience is ok, of course the first experience was a little stressful. But besides that it’s definitely needed and a concern for me.

Elizabeth: It was uncomfortable, I mean, come on, it was uncomfortable but it’s not ... women have babies for crying out loud!

Sheri: Mammograms are uncomfortable, but it’s pretty quick and the technicians are usually very nice and understanding. And it’s not embarrassing; they are as gentle as they can be and patient and I’ve never had a bad experience.

Dr. Armstrong: There are some things that women can do to minimize the discomfort of the compression that’s associated with the mammogram. For example avoiding scheduling a mammogram during your period or the week before your menstrual period is helpful. Scheduling it after your menstrual period will minimize the amount of discomfort that you experience during a mammogram.

Elayne: I think one of the reasons women do not get mammograms is if they’re not covered by their insurance.

Susan: Financial resources and health insurance is the key to early detection and knowledge about the disease and follow-up.

Mercedes: You know you can check in your community because at some places they have free tests. So it’s something free, you pay nothing to prevent something, so it’s good.

Elizabeth: There are free mammograms for the uninsured and the underinsured. You have to do some research but if you call the American Cancer Society, or go to their web site, you can contact, and they will do the research for you to see where there are free mammograms in your area.

Corinne: You know what? Don’t be afraid to find out because the sooner you find out the more chances you have that it can be taken care of.

Sheri: I’ve had three biopsies because of my past history, and I’m really glad that I was having my mammograms because it wasn’t anything, it was calcifications, thankfully, but because of the mammograms I was able to check that out.

Francisca: It has to be yearly because, I mean, things change from one year to another. That’s what happened to me, I mean, my first year when I went to take the mammogram the results were negative and then the next year they were positive. So it can be the next time or it can not be the next time, I mean, you never know.

Dr. Armstrong: Most women do take part in mammography and that’s a huge public health success story. There’s still a significant number of women who don’t get mammography and those are the women we have to reach out to.

Corinne: The earlier they catch it the easier they can get rid of it. If they catch it late…the ramifications of a late check are deadly.

Francesca: You love yourself, you love your family. It’s something you need to do for you and your family.

Elizabeth: Give yourself a chance to live. You know? I mean, just go get the mammogram.

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