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Four Excuses Women Use to Avoid Mammograms

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- When Mara Street turned 40, she received a call from TRICARE to recommend she go for her first yearly mammogram.

Street, who resides in Great Falls, Mont., and is the wife of a retired Air Force captain, didn't listen at first.

"I deleted the message, thinking I'm a healthy young woman," she said. "I do not have a family history of breast cancer."

Two weeks later, TRICARE called again; this time, Street listened. After going for her first mammogram, she was told that she had breast cancer.

"If it hadn't been for TriWest making two phone calls, we may have waited until she was 50," said her husband, Tim Street. "Our opportunities and options would have been grossly limited."

Many women put off their yearly mammograms for a variety of reasons. But as Street--a mother of six--can attest, nothing should get in the way. A mammogram saved her life.

Here are four common excuses women use to avoid getting their mammograms, and why they should stop avoiding this lifesaving screening:

1. I'm too busy.
Having a mammogram will only take a few moments. The test takes, normally, about three to five minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Typically, it's less than an hour from checking in to walking out the door.

Additionally, a woman's risk for developing breast cancer grows as she gets older. The sooner you detect breast cancer, the better your chance of survival, says the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Web site. Remember, what's the point of being too busy, if you can't be there for your family someday?

2. It hurts.
As a general rule, having a mammogram may cause some minor discomfort. Yes, there is pressure on the breast tissue--but it is pressure, not pain.

3. Nothing can be wrong if I don't check.
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in American women, other than skin cancer, according to the CDC. Therefore, the odds are against you if you don't check, in fact, just getting older increases your risk.

From the CDC, some of the warning signs of breast cancer include:

· A new lump in the breast or armpit
· Thickening or swelling of the breast
· Nipple discharge, other than breast milk, including blood
· Change in size or shape of the breast
· Pain in any area of the breast

4. I don't know where to go for a mammogram.
Your doctor can give you some options of where you can conveniently get a mammogram. Your closest option might be at a base clinic or a local imaging center--sometimes these are called radiology centers. Always call to make sure your mammography center is TRICARE-authorized.

TRICARE covers mammograms for women starting at age 40. For those considered at high-risk for breast cancer, TRICARE begins covering mammograms at 35 years old.

To watch Mara Street's story firsthand, visit For more information about breast cancer prevention, visit