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Why Haven't You Had a Mammogram?

Nobody Told Me To

In a recent study of more than 3,000 women who hadn't had a recent mammogram, 80% said the reason was simply that their doctor didn't suggest it to them. Without a professional's urging, it's all too easy to sideline annual screenings. In addition, if a woman visits her doctor only when she's sick, it may leave little time for prevention-oriented talk, notes one of the study's authors, Nancy Breen, Ph.D., an economist with the National Cancer Institute.

What you can do

Don't count on receiving a postcard or phone call reminding you to get an annual mammogram, says Breen. "Few doctors' offices have these kind of reminder systems in place." Instead, accept that having regular mammograms is like wearing sunscreen or eating right—an aspect of your health that you have to take charge of yourself. Be proactive about getting a referral to a breast center, making an appointment and following up on results.