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Thread: Routine mammograms: does anyone avoid because of anxiety?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    Routine mammograms: does anyone avoid because of anxiety?

    I attended my first two. First one I was recalled and investigated. It was stressful and there was nothing wrong with me. I went to the second one three years later, all fine. I missed the third one, just couldn’t face the anxiety of waiting for the results. So now I haven’t had one for six years and have an appointment for a fortnight’s time. I hate these and wish they would just go away! I know they’re probably a good idea by the way!
    I wonder what other people’s experiences have been.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Re: Routine mammograms: does anyone avoid because of anxiety?

    You have to turn around your feelings about them from negative to positive, they aren't there as a threat to you - they are a life-saver for many women. Cancer is the threat, not the mammogram. Yes, they are horribly stressful (I have them every year by the way) and generally I entirely understand the avoidance and 'head in sand' approach, as I have an avoider tendency, but if in the future you found that you had something more advanced you would TOTALLY regret not having gone earlier for a mammo. In the face of finding something more advanced, rather than early stages, treatment becomes harder, more invasive and prognosis reduces. For stage 1 breast cancer (which mammos are hoping to find), after treatment, a 90 percent plus of women come through it with no problems and no recurring issues. So, avoiding temporarily eases the pain of scanxiety, but a head in sand approach isn't helpful long-term.



    Of course, it is your body, and your choice to have mammograms or even any medical treatment, so they can 'go away' in the sense that it is your choice to attend or not. There are plenty of people who don't attend mammogram appointments, even women who have had prior breast cancer believe it or not! It is to be noted that also mammograms don't pick up all cancers and vigilance to changes is still required. I would strongly suggest that if you don't attend that you do monthly rigorous checking as described by breast cancer care self-checking sheet.

  3. #3
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    Sep 2008
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    Re: Routine mammograms: does anyone avoid because of anxiety?

    Thank you for your reply, Carys.

    I think I had already decided to attend this time, I just needed someone else to tell me what I knew already. It just seems, for an anxious person, these days we are told from a young age “watch out for all these symptoms because they might mean cancer, have this test and that test, be vigilant”. People who do not suffer from excess anxiety can just be sensible, have the tests etc and just get on with things. For me, although I know we’re lucky to be looked after like this, It makes me think about the worst happening when I’m a catastrophiser anyway!

    But thank you, I’m going!

  4. #4

    Re: Routine mammograms: does anyone avoid because of anxiety?

    Hi Sleepy
    I read your post and thought, “do I have a twin?” I have had similar experiences as you. I’ve had 3 mammos in my life and 2 call backs and an ultra sound, never any cancer found, just density and fibrous tissue. But I’m terrified of doctors and have put off another mammo. I do have one scheduled for Monday and I’m fighting the panic and negative thoughts! Just wanted to say you are not alone.

  5. #5
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    Re: Routine mammograms: does anyone avoid because of anxiety?

    The funny thing is, once I get the 'nothing there, clear' letter I do forget about it and move on (but then again I don't consider myself to have had HA in the last 25 years). I won't deny its horribly stressful for the 'avoiders' like ourselves, you feel like you are opening yourself up to any possibility and that isn't pleasant to say the least. Mammograms don't detect all cancers anyway (so the letter states) and so keeping your own general manual exam checks going is so important, as that will be the most likely way of something being found really early. I needed breast treatment and I was pre-mammogram age group, found the issue myself.

  6. #6

    Re: Routine mammograms: does anyone avoid because of anxiety?

    Yes Carys, very good point about self checks. Unfortunately there is an irrational part of my brain that says I am going to pay in some way for avoiding docs and tests, even though I am in excellent health and take good care of myself. My HA started years ago with a misdiagnosis. It turned out to be a minor issue, but left me mistrustful of health care in general.

  7. #7
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    Sep 2008
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    Re: Routine mammograms: does anyone avoid because of anxiety?

    Red dog, I’m sure there are many others like us. I had two benign cysts removed in 1981 and 1997. The anxiety was worse than the surgery.

    My anxiety these days is much better thanks to escitalopram, but the shadow of the mammogram looms closer and closer as the next appointment approaches.

    I will go, and would tell any friend to do the same. Not to mention the smears. Oh well, here’s to being female. I’ve also been told that once I hit 60 I’ll have stool tests too. Lovely!

  8. #8

    Re: Routine mammograms: does anyone avoid because of anxiety?

    Hi! I’m actually getting my annual (through a couple months overdue by accident) mammogram this afternoon! We are advised to go annually in the US starting at 40. Watching a friend my age go through breast cancer this past year has got me extra nervous this time. I’m just trying to remind myself that what I’m doing is 1. Routine, 2. Responsible, and 3. Proactive. If I can focus on those things when it comes to stuff like this it helps me so much because it makes me feel good about myself “I’m a responsible adult” instead of the lie “I must be dying and this is the time they will catch it”. Even in giving blood or getting a Pap smear is hard for me. My therapist also encourages me to look at it like practice. It’s practice for working on the health anxiety with the strategies I’ve learned like thought replacement. Then I can see the experience as a good thing if I can keep all of that in mind. Hope this helps!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    870

    Re: Routine mammograms: does anyone avoid because of anxiety?

    Hi, I have a mammogram every year and in the last 2 years I've opted for the new 3D one that has even more accuracy. The radiographer said the radiation dose is about the same as taking a flight... kind of puts things into perspective

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    145

    Re: Routine mammograms: does anyone avoid because of anxiety?

    Mammogram done, results in, all clear!

    We only have 3-yearly checks. Ironically, if we had them yearly, I think the anxiety would be lessened as a year is obviously a lot less time for something nasty to have developed.

    Just waiting for the smear test results now!

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