Population Health Topic

October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month

As most people are aware October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. During this month, a concerted effort is made to increase awareness of breast cancer and encourage women to get mammograms.

It is not unusual for women to put off their screenings because of anxiety about getting mammograms. Women may be concerned that the procedure will hurt or be uncomfortable. Others fear that they will have cancer. Some patients have concerns about radiation and false positives.

Often times providing information and statistics can help women overcome their anxiety.

  • Of all the mammograms performed only about 10% are called back for further testing and less than 1% will actually be diagnosed with breast cancer1.
  • Current mammography involves a tiny amount of radiation exposure.
  • The radiation dose used for a mammogram is about the same amount of radiation a woman would get from her natural surroundings in approximately seven weeks2.

The chart below shows the breast cancer biopsy results from 2020 to 2021 for Beverly Hospital and Addison Gilbert Hospital. Due to the pandemic there was a delay in screenings. The data showed an increase in cancers diagnosed and a 2% increase in Stage IV cancers.

If providers have a patient who is extremely anxious about getting a mammogram, Denielle Palm, Associate Director of Radiology and the Breast Health Center is happy to talk to patients about any fears or concerns they may have. Her direct line is 978-304-8002.

If a patient has indicated that she is willing to have a mammogram, providers can reach out to Laureen Viel, Lead Population Health Specialist for concierge scheduling. EPIC providers can send an in-basket message to Laureen or she can also be reached by phone at 978-236-1746. To schedule a mammogram through Access Services patients can call 1-866-479-3208.

  1. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/publications/health-matters/mammograms-facts-on-false-positives
  2. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/mammograms/mammogram-basics.html