National Mammography Day

National Mammography Day - Wednesday, October 16, 2024


What is National Mammography Day?

This year National Mammography Day lands on October 16. Occurring every third Friday of October, National Mammography Day is a cousin to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. They’re both committed to women’s self care but this day is set aside specifically to encourage women to take the time to make an appointment. Early detection means early treatment and the difference between life and death.


National Mammography Day Related Holidays

National No Bra Day 

Celebrated annually on October 13, National No Bra Day is more than just a day to get comfortable. The day’s actual purpose is to raise awareness about breast health and encourage people to self examine their breast tissue for lumps. So lose the bra, get cozy, and cop a self-feel! It’s for your health! 
Observed every year on February 4, World Cancer Day raises awareness about early detection, prevention, and treatment. Even if you yourself don’t have cancer, the disease has probably impacted you in some type of way. Take the day to work on bettering your health and reach out to organizations that might need your help. 
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Every two minutes, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. And though only 1% of men get diagnosed with the affliction, it’s important that they too are educated on the disease. Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate, so make sure to self check your breast tissue regularly, regardless of your gender.

History of National Mammography Day

A mammography is a technique using low-energy x-rays to detect calcification, which is a sign of the beginning stages of breast cancer. In the late 1950s, Robert Egan developed an innovative method to screen mammograms for the first time. In 1959 he published his results and later released a book called “Mammography” in the early 1960s. His contribution began to be known as “The Egan Technique” and allowed doctors to detect hardening masses within the breast’s tissue.
When getting a mammogram, the breast is compressed via a mammography unit. This compression evens out the thickness of the breast tissue to decrease the amount of scattered radiation and prevent blurring from motion. Women are discouraged from wearing deodorant, lotion, or talcum powder during these screenings as they may show up on the x-ray as calcium spots. The procedure is said to be painful, or highly uncomfortable, which is the main reason many women might not return or schedule continuing exams.
There are currently over 3.1 million survivors in the United States alone, living due to early detection technologies like mammograms. It is recommended that women aged 40 and up schedule their mammography appointments biennially. However, if women are at higher risk for breast cancer, they are encouraged to schedule their appointments annually instead. Factors that may increase the risk of breast cancer include: heavy smoking, excessive drinking, or a family history of breast cancer. There are also ways women can decrease their chances of being afflicted with breast cancer, such as: moderating alcohol intake, avoiding cigarettes, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy diet.

National Mammography Day timeline


​German doctor detected breast cancer with x-ray machine

Albert Solomon, a surgeon in Berlin, used an x-ray machine to see breast cancer in 3,000 mastectomy samples.


​Houston radiologist improved mammography imagery

Robert Egan, a Houston-based radiologist, introduced specialized film for mammograms resulting in better imagery and details.


​Xeromammography introduced for commercial use

Xeromammography was commercially introduced as a method of providing better image quality of the chest wall.


​Congress approved mammography funding

Congress passed legislation providing funding for annual mammography screening as a Medicare benefit.


​Digital mammography approved

The FDA, the regulating agency for mammography, approved the first full-field digital mammography system.

National Mammography Day FAQs

When is Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is celebrated annually during the month of October. Take the time to get educated on Breast Cancer and learn what you can do to decrease your chances of being diagnosed.

Are mammograms free?

Depending on your health care plan, you might not have to pay a deductible to receive a mammography. Also, some Planned Parenthood affiliates have free mammography vans for low-income and uninsured women.

Are mammography exams painful?

Some women feel pain during the procedure while others feel nothing at all. This discomfort of the process comes from the fact that the mammography unit has to compress the breast in order to evenly distribute the tissue. 

5 Things You May Not Know About Breast Cancer

  1. Know your risk factors

    Yearly and biennially mammograms can be dangerous for women under 40, which is why it is recommended to only begin the process once this age minimum is reached. Once a women reaches the age of 40, the benefits of mammograms far outweigh the risks.

  2. ​Mammograms have some limitations

    ​If you have dense breast tissue, a traditional mammogram may have trouble detecting breast cancer.

  3. Understand what they do

    Mammograms are important for the race to early detection; however, they do not prevent breast cancer.

  4. 3D mammograms see through dense breasts

    3D mammography, or tomosynthesis, is the most modern screening tool for breast cancer detection, allowing physicians to access better images of dense breast tissue than with traditional machines.

  5. You can get screened with implants

    ​If you have breast implants, they won't hinder a physicians view of your natural tissue. 

How to Observe National Mammography Day

  1. Make your mammogram appointment

    If you've been procrastinating out of fear (or simply denial that you actually are 40), set aside time to make that appointment on October 18. Keep in mind that out of every 1,000 women who get screened, about 100 are asked to do another mammography or allow ultra sound imagery. 20 women will be referred for a biopsy and only five are diagnosed with breast cancer. Even with an abnormal mammogram, there's a high chance cancer has not been detected.

  2. Do a breast self-exam

    Now's the time to renew your commitment to monthly self-exams. Call your doctor or nurse practitioner for an appointment to show you the correct way to do one. You can also do an online search for pictures or infographics that will walk you through the process. After all, it's your body — show it some love.

  3. Wear some pink

    Pink is the official color of breast cancer awareness, which includes National Mammography Day. Proudly wear your pink ribbon in honor of a friend, loved one, or in awareness for breast cancer in general. It may seem like a little thing, but for breast cancer survivors, it means they're not alone in their struggle.

Why National Mammography Day is Important

  1. Mammograms are only once a year or every two years

    With annual and biennial mammograms, women over age 40 promote their own self-care. Mammograms are non-invasive x-ray images of each breast that doctors review for anomalies that may indicate cancer. Unfortunately, many women are afraid to make their mammogram appointments for fear of radiation and breast discomfort during the exam. But fear not because the procedure takes only about 20 minutes.

  2. Mammograms are extremely effective

    Early detection screening has successfully reduced the U.S. breast cancer mortality rate by almost 40 percent according to the National Cancer Institute. That once-a-year mammogram is so effective that it can reveal breast changes up to two years before either a patient or their doctor can feel them.

  3. Mammograms don't require a prescription

    In most states, you don't need a doctor's permission to make your mammogram appointment. As long as you are over age 40, you can refer yourself to a facility. Make sure that facility is certified by regulating agencies including the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Bring copies of previous mammograms with you, especially if you are using this facility for the first time.

Also on Wed Oct 16, 2024...

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