October is Breast Health Awareness Month and an ideal time to reiterate the vital importance of mammograms. Wait! Don’t click to another page!

Yes, it’s been talked about – a lot. It’s been published here, there and everywhere, but its importance can’t be overstated and there are some really important things every woman should know about mammography.

thinkpink pink breast cancer mammogramBreast cancer is a deadly serious matter, and however the subject is approached the fact is that breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women.

Getting a mammogram is so important because it is the most effective way of detecting breast cancer early, and detecting breast cancer early can save lives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that getting mammograms regularly can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer.

So, does that mean every woman should get a mammogram, at what age and how often?

Although there are many resources and lots of good information out there, the best answers will come from your doctor. Every woman is unique and should assess her breast cancer risk, and discuss preventative measures, with her doctor.

Ok, so does that mean every woman who needs a mammogram is getting one? Well, first let’s cover something everybody already knows – women are far better (than men) about seeing their doctor regularly. Here’s something you might not know, the five-year breast cancer survival rate in the U.S. is 90 percent. Take that, breast cancer!

Unfortunately, finances are a significant barrier for many women to get a recommended mammogram. Everyday economic challenges can result in this important screening taking a back seat, especially because women often put the needs of their family and others ahead of their own.

Tucson Medical Center’s Breast Health and Education Program was designed to promote awareness and increase accessibility to services. For more than 18 years, with the help of the TMC Foundation, this program has provided free mammograms to nearly 7,000 women in Southern Arizona.

“We get the opportunity to educate women on the importance of screenings and very often they ask other women’s health questions that they have,” said Karen Narum, nurse practitioner with the TMC Oncology Program. In addition to providing education and screening, women are able to receive additional assistance regarding women’s health needs. “We then have the ability to guide women to other resources as well.”

Just how important is this service? Since the program began, nearly 40 women who were asymptomatic, and came in for a routine screening, were diagnosed with breast cancer in early stages.

If you have been putting off a mammogram for any reason – see your doctor. Encourage your girlfriends and female family members to talk about mammograms with their doctors. Mammography services are available, don’t wait another moment – put your health first.


Additional resources:

Susan G. Komen

Susan G. Komen Arizona

National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.


Breast Cancer Research Foundation

American Breast Cancer Foundation

Foundation for Women’s Cancer

American Cancer Society

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


If you have any concerns or questions, please feel free to contact the TMC Breast Center at (520) 324-1286 or email breast.navigator@tmcaz.com.

Medical insurance covers annual mammography screening as a preventative service, and grant funds allow TMC to offer mammograms for uninsured women age 40 and over. To make an appointment, call (520) 324-2075.