Mammograms Can Be More Stressful Than Cancer
Stresses Over Mammography Plague Breast Cancer Survivors
WebMD News Archive
Mammograms Induce Stress continued...
Gurevich says those findings suggest that even routine
follow-up care and good mammography results can still cause anxiety among
breast cancer survivors by triggering memories of earlier bouts with
"Compared with those with no history of breast cancer, the
meaning and experience of mammography surveillance and cancer-related medical
follow-ups are likely to be different in survivors of breast cancer, who are at
higher risk for developing new primary breast cancer or a recurrence,"
writes Gurevich and colleagues.
To Know or Not To Know
For women considering a mammogram, experts say it's a struggle
between uncertainty and fears about what might be found.
"The problem with mammograms and doing breast self-exams or
clinical exams is the only thing you're looking for is bad news," says Bev
Parker, director of the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization hotline.
"I think we all want to shy away from that."
But by undergoing annual breast cancer screening, Parker says
women can know that they're safe for another year.
Wendy Mason, helpline manager for the Susan G. Komen Breast
Cancer Foundation, agrees and says uncertainty can be much more stressful than
the mammogram itself.
"The not knowing is more bothersome to a lot of the women
because if they know what's wrong, at that point they can make plans for next
steps and start actively doing something -- whether it's treatment or
follow-up," Mason tells WebMD. "I think the not knowing causes a lot
more sleepless nights."
Mason says that although breast cancer survivors may have a
higher level of anxiety about mammograms, they are also keenly aware of the
risks of not getting one.
"They wouldn't consider not going for a mammogram because
they know that early detection is going to give them the best chance for
successful treatment," says Mason.
Although every breast cancer case is different, Mason says the
risk of cancer recurrence is greatest within the first two years after
diagnosis and that risk decrease with time. Women are considered breast cancer
free if no new or recurrent cancers are found within five years after their