Breast Cancer on the Run in October: (Day 4) The Rise of Mammography: Getting Squished


Everyone likes to joke about mammography. It is a pretty bizarre test–having your breasts compressed between two cold steel plates while being told to hold your breath. Pretty sexy, huh?

img_1013I think the jokes come to relieve the anxiety. Anxious before the test, anxious while the test is being done, and anxious awaiting the results. We should prescribe Valium a week before attempting the study.

Jokes and anxiety aside, this test’s impact on our success cannot be overestimated, even though quantifying its precise contribution may be impossible.

Prior to mammography, breast cancer was found by noting a lump, noticing a change in the nipple area, or experiencing a discharge. Now we find it before it is clinically evident.

Much of the activism noted at the beginning of this series had to do with encouraging women to do mammography. Out of this has come acceptance of screening by the medical community and insurance companies, improvements in technology, and regulatory guidelines that have improved and insured uniform quality.

Yes, the test is humiliating, painful, and anxiety producing. But let us not lose sight of its contribution. Countless women have benefited from the test. And we can all hope that a better test will emerge in the future.

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