Annual Mammograms – What Every Woman Over 55 Should Know

Breast cancer is the second-leading type of cancer among women in the US, and the second-leading cause of cancer deaths.

 According to the National Cancer Institute, there are over 200,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed each year across the country, and nearly 40,000 women die annually of this disease.

The chance of a woman developing breast cancer during her lifetime is one in eight.

The risk of getting breast cancer increases with age, and a history of smoking and a high-fat diet can also be contributing factors.

Although you can’t do anything about your age, you can keep a watchful eye on your fat intake, stick to a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and do your best to avoid dwelling on the many stresses of life.


Breast Cancer Ribbon

Above all, you can greatly minimize your breast cancer risk by getting an annual mammogram – especially if you’re over 55.


Mammograms are not the most pleasurable experience, but the fact is survival rates are high among women whose breast cancer is detected early. The National Cancer Institute estimates that 2.6 million women in the US have a history of breast cancer. That is an alarming statistic, but the great news in all of this is that many of these women, thanks to screening and early detection, have gone on to live cancer-free lives.

Breast Cancer Screening

Women 40 and older are advised to get an annual breast screening mammogram. If you’re over 55, this is doubly important. If you are over 65 or on Medicare, your Medicare benefits include one mammogram every 12 months. Take full advantage of this Medicare benefit, ladies, because it could save your life.

Excuses, excuses …

There are a million excuses not to get an annual mammogram. Most of us are guilty of using them, but for our health’s sake we need to stop giving these excuses. Remember, if you’re a Medicare recipient, you have every right to Medicare preventive services, and your annual mammogram is definitely one you don’t want to ignore. Often times, it is more comforting to avoid breast exams simply because you would rather just not know. However, you need to be aware of any risk you’re facing, and there’s no better way to get an up-to-date snapshot of your risk for breast cancer than by going for your annual mammogram.

Related: About Mammograms Page 2:  Early detection is better than no detection

2 thoughts on “Annual Mammograms – What Every Woman Over 55 Should Know

  1. What about the fact that has been recently published (leaked) that in the new health care plan digital mamograms are no longer going to be covered. Nor are pap tests for anyone over 65. I found this to be true when i had my last physical. Instead, birth control pills will be covered?

  2. Hi Janice,

    That’s a good point. Digital machines might be a preferred screening option over traditional film for many patients.

    Digital Mammograms and Traditional Film mammograms have different cost to maintain, so it’s no surprise that Digital Mammograms might be cut if Medicare can provide the same service at lower cost for traditional screening machines.

    As far as Pap test are concerned, at the time of this writing Medicare covers one pap/pelvic exam per year. If you are on Original Medicare, you will pay nothing.

    If you are on Original medicare and you still had to pay for your pap test. In order to be covered, you must use a Doctor that accepts Medicare Assignment. If that’s the case, I might suggest you contact the billing office and request a reimbursement.

    However, if you have Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan. You might have to pay a co-pay, co-insurance or deductible out of pocket depending on the procedure and doctor as outlined in your Medicare Advantage Plan.

    Medicare Advantage Plans replace your Traditional Medicare A&B.

    As far as birth control goes, Medicare does not cover birth control nor contraceptives. I have read reports that Medicaid programs in certain states may help cover a portion of the cost of contraceptive products or services for qualified patients, but Medicare contributes nothing to it at all.

    I am interested to know If you still have the source or a link to the article that states that Digital Mammograms and Pap test are no longer covered while birth control pills are.

    Richard Thompson

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