In Health and Fitness

Sponsored Post – Why I go for a mammogram screening every two years.
mammogram screeningEvery two years I trot off for a free mammogram, and I count myself so very lucky.

Firstly – it’s free! Isn’t that wonderful? For over 20 years, BreastScreen WA has provided a free breast cancer screening service for women over 40.

But mostly I go because I feel comfortably protected.

It’s all part of my Lovin’ Life.

Why? Because a screening mammogram is performed on women with no breast symptoms for the purpose of detecting breast cancer at an early stage before it can be felt or noticed – and it’s said that breast screening mammograms may detect up to 90% of breast cancers.

Is it painful?

I’m going to tell you the truth, and let you know what a wimp I am.

Let’s start with needles (of which there are none at a mammogram screening.)

You see whenever I need to give a blood sample, show me the needle and chances are I’ll faint, even though it really doesn’t hurt. So when I first went for a mammogram I thought it would hurt,  and I’d probably go all queasy just thinking about it.

I mean, mention having your boobs placed between two metal plates which squash them as flat as possible and surely everyone would say, “Ouch! No thank you very much!”

But in reality, I’ve never found it painful. Nor do I dread going at all.

Of course it does seem as if a hungry monster has clamped your girls into its cold hard mouth for a moment or two, but apart from a bit of pinching for a few seconds before the radiographer releases the plates, I don’t find it really hurts.

I’ve also found the radiographers and receptionists at BreastScreen WA to be really friendly and helpful. They’ve always been aware that they’re dealing with a very sensitive and private part of me and have shown the utmost respect, decorum and kindness when I’ve visited.

mammogram screening

BreastScreen WA radiographer Jenny Pikoos with client Nilda Eisen at the Mirrabooka clinic.

Different Breast Check Options

I’m not sure about elsewhere in Australia or wherever you are in the world, but in WA we have different options for breast screening so that we can attend a facility close to where we live.

We can either go to a BreastScreen WA clinic or we can book up to visit one of the mobile facilities in regional areas.

mammogram screening

Here’s what a BSWA Mobile Unit looks like.

It’s made very easy for us, and we get a reminder every two years when our screening is due again.

“One in eight women in Australia will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, so it is important that all women aged 50-74 years have a screening mammogram,” Prof. Liz Wylie, BreastScreen WA’s Medical Director said.

Let’s get down to some facts about mammogram screening.

In Western Australia, BreastScreen WA provides over 120,000 screening mammograms each year to Western Australian women over the age of 40. The benefit from screening mammography is greatest for women aged 50 to 74 years old.

Nilda Eisen from Joondanna has been having mammograms with BreastScreen WA since 1994. After having a breast cancer detected in 2011 she credits the service with saving her life. Nilda recommends that all eligible women should take advantage of the free screening.

“It’s fast, free and could save your life and in my experience the ladies that work there are always professional and respectful,” said Nilda.

mammogram screening

The images of your breasts are later scrutinised on a screen by a medical professional.

According to BreastScreen WA …

  1. Women in Australia have a 1 in 8 risk of developing breast cancer in their lifetime.
  2. The risk of breast cancer increases with age.
  3. A mammogram may detect up to 90% of breast cancers.
  4. Screening mammograms may detect a very small cancer, as small as a grain of rice before you or your doctor can feel it.
  5. Breast cancer cannot be prevented, but the earlier a breast cancer is detected the better the chance of successful treatment
  6. Over 75% of breast cancers occur in women over 50 years of age.

How often should you have a mammogram?

The advice from BreastScreen WA is every two years.

Note: There are some cancers that cannot be detected by screening mammograms. See your GP / family doctor promptly if you notice any unusual changes in your breasts.

Is having a mammogram harmful?

BreastScreen WA say there’s evidence to suggest the benefits of breast screening outweigh the risks, and that the benefit of getting an early diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer is far bigger than the risk of the small amount of radiation received during a mammogram.

BreastScreen WA

BreastScreen WA was one the first breast screen services in Australia to have online bookings for its clients allowing women to book an appointment 24/7.

For more information, and for online bookings Contact BreastScreen WA  or find out more on Facebook Breast Screen WA or ring 13 20 50.

In order to help women manage their busy lives, BreastScreen WA uses text message appointment reminders and social media is recognised as an important tool for health messages.

Thank You to BreastScreen WA for the facts and figures provided in this post.

This post is provided for general information only. You should always obtain personal professional medical advice about anything to do with your health and wellbeing, and not rely on tips provided on Lifestyle Fifty.

Do you have regular breast screenings? 

Do you know of anyone who’s life has been saved by a mammogram screening?

Let us know in the comments why you’re Lovin’ Life this week won’t you?

The Lovin’ Life Linky

Kathy from 50 Shades of Age
Leanne from Deep Fried Fruit
Jo from And Anyways
and oh yes, Me! at Lifestyle Fifty

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Showing 23 comments
  • Linda

    Hi, although I line up for my regular 2year screen, I hate it and tense up so badly. I had a dreadful agonising and sooo painful screen about 6 years ago. Literally screaming in pain and asking her to stop but she just kept going telling me ‘it shouldn’t hurt’. Well, duh, I know it shouldn’t. Anyway, I bruised a deep purple and I now have internal scarring in that boob. But… I keep going, full of anxiety, knowing what may happen otherwise.

    • Johanna

      Owww Linda, that doesn’t sound good. If the anxiety about going is really bad, perhaps you should think about enlisting professional help? Or maybe that was just a really really bad ‘one off’.

  • Seana

    I did my second one recently and had an ultrasound too. All clear. A dear friend just had a lump found during screening and is one chemo round down. We’re very lucky to have such a good service.

    • Johanna

      So glad you were given the all clear Seanna. Hope your friend is doing okay x

  • writeofthemiddle

    Sounds like BreastScreen WA operates the same as our BreastScreen Qld Jo. I’ve been going to BreastScreen Qld for over a decade – every two years. They are fabulous! I get a reminder letter, and if I don’t make contact I get a second reminder letter and if I still don’t make contact to book an appointment – they phone me. They are fantastic. BTW I usually phone and make an appointment after the first reminder letter but on one occasion life was so intensely busy that I forgot! It is SO important that women have regular mammograms! #TeamLovinLife

    • Johanna

      Hi Min, It’s great that BreastScreen remind us. It’s a fantastic service.

  • Reply

    I’ve had one mammogram – just because I got the heeby jeebies and decided to get it done. Won’t be long and I’ll be the age for regular screening.

  • seizetheday20

    Yes Jo, we do all need to go along for a mammogram. Last year, a lump was located in my breast, but it didn’t show on the mammogram, only the ultrasound. Getting things checked out is really important. The earlier a problem is detected, the better #TeamLovinLife

    • Johanna

      Definitely Lyndall! I really hope everything is okay with you and it was caught early enough?

  • Shauna 'Round the Corner

    It’s free if you’re 50 years or over in NSW, I’m only 44 but have had a couple of mammograms to check up on some abnormalities and all is well thankfully. The services in WA sound wonderful. I expect I’ll learn a lot more about what’s available in NSW when I reach the magic 50.

    • Johanna

      So glad to hear that all is well with you Shauna. Yes we are fortunate in WA that it’s free for women over the age of 40 🙂

  • Life Images by Jill

    I know we all hate it – but this few seconds of embarrassment and slight pain is far better than the alternative. At least the machines are far more flesh friendly than the one I had my first time round.

    • Johanna

      I was thinking that the machines are much flesh friendlier than they were when I had my first mammogram in South Africa, Jill. But as you say, a few moments of embarrassment and pinching is worth it.

  • Reply

    You’ve just reminded me, this is something that’s on my “to do” list for my #festivalof50 this year. Probably not the most exciting thing on the list, but one I need to make a priority!

  • robjodiefilogomo

    You are so good to remind us of this, Johanna!! We really are so lucky to have these screenings—we should definitely take advantage of them!

    • Johanna

      Hi Jodie, glad that you’ve been reminded 🙂 I believe it’s an important appointment to keep 🙂

  • Kathy Marris

    Thanks for reminding us Jo how important it is to have your two yearly breast screening. We have a similar system here in Queensland and I get a reminder letter every two years. One year I didn’t book my appointment and so they followed up with a reminder letter. It is a little uncomfortable having your boobs squished, but thoroughly worthwhile when you consider the breast cancer statistics. I have had two close friends with breast cancer and also two aunties, so I’m very aware that I need to have regular checkups. 🙂

    • Johanna

      Hi Kathy, it’s great that we get reminders isn’t it, and it’s also great that it’s a free service aimed at giving us prior warning of health issue which is better treated in its infancy rather than if it becomes advanced.

  • sizzlesue15

    Thank you for this post we can’t get enough information out there about mammograms. My mum passed away 30 years ago from breast cancer, when little was know in the medical field about treatment etc. I am a regular for my mammogram and although some people say they hurt I’ve never had that problem. Besides peace of mind is worth any discomfort. Thanks for the post. Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

    • Johanna

      Hi Sue, yes peace of mind totally wins over a few seconds of pinching 🙂

  • [email protected]

    I’m one of those women who lines up every 2 years Jo. A friend of mine started at 40 due to family history, and after her first one I remember her saying ‘I don’t what women make such a fuss about!’ I found this reassuring, and then out that she was right. You are in and out in 10 minutes, and the women are brilliantly trained and selected both technically and interpersonally.

    • Johanna

      Hi Jo, I agree. I’ve never had a problem and the radiographers have always been well trained and like you say, interpersonally they are brilliant too.

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