There are two kinds of women in Bergen County: those who have had their annual mammogram this year and those who haven't. If you have, congratulations! Now put a reminder in your calendar to make that appointment again for next year. If you haven't yet gotten your mammogram, Gail Quackenbush, MD, a breast radiology specialist at Englwood Health in Englewood, New Jersey, would like to strongly encourage you to make that appointment today.
A board-certified radiologist who meets with patients daily, Dr. Quackenbush has heard it all. With the ongoing pandemic uncertainty, she understands that many patients are concerned about returning to a medical setting. Others are worried that putting their health screenings on hold for the past few years will have a negative impact on the results of their tests. Dr. Quackenbush would like to assure these patients that Englewood Health has prioritized patient health and safety since the very beginning of the pandemic.
If you are over 40 and you've missed a few annual screenings, come on back. As Dr. Quackenbush says, "Breast cancer, if caught early, is one of the most treatable cancers." So early detection is critical. But here's what you should also remember: "Most women who get screened for breast cancer, even if they're convinced that 'this time will be the one,' walk out of their mammogram with a clean bill of health."
If you have a hard time motivating yourself to prioritize your health and make that appointment, Dr. Quackenbush recommends recruiting a friend or family member to come with you, either as moral support or as your partner in crime. Be like the four sisters she treats who arrive at their annual mammogram wearing matching T-shirts. "It's empowering to take control of your breast health with a support network around you. Mammograms save lives. Bring your sister, your best friend, your mother, or even your child if they are old enough. Make a day of it!"
For those who have either heard that mammograms are uncomfortable or even painful, or for those who have actually experienced discomfort or pain, Dr. Quackenbush advises opening a dialogue with the person doing your imaging test. "Remember that you can always tell them when it feels uncomfortable, and that often the compression or positioning can be adjusted," she says. Most patients experience surprisingly little pain or no pain at all. The mammo techs at Englewood Health work hard to ensure that their patients have a comfortable experience, while also providing the highest quality imaging possible.
The most important thing is to get that mammogram even if "no one in my family has had breast cancer." Between 75 and 85 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no documented family history. So, follow these easy screening recommendations:
- If you're 40 years or older, get an annual mammogram.
- If you have a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors, talk to your primary care physician about when you should start getting screened (hint: it will probably be before age 40).
To learn more about breast imaging, visit: englewoodhealth.org/service/breast-care