National Mammography Day

Summary: The third Friday in October, during Breast Cancer Awareness month, is National Mammography day. This day is designed to bring awareness and spread education about all aspects of breast cancer, and the importance of seeking early detection and treatment via mammogram. Here you can learn different ways to help spread education, tips on how to lower your risk for breast cancer, and why this special day is so important!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and the third Friday of the month is also National Mammography day! First declared in 1993 by President Clinton, this day is designed to encourage all women to schedule their yearly mammography appointment without delay. In almost all of the United States, there are also clinics and doctor’s offices who offer free mammography services to those in need. Another aspect of of this important day is to continue to raise awareness and educate women across the country on the warning signs of breast cancer, and how it can be detected earlier for a better survival rate.

Why is National Mammography Day so important?

  • Mammograms happen only once per year, unless there is a reason you may need to have more. With regular mammograms that happen once per year for women over age forty, this allows another method to push for their own self-care. Unfortunately, many women are afraid to make their mammogram appointments for fear of radiation and breast discomfort during the exam. But do not fear because the procedure, with minimal discomfort and a very small amount of radiation dispensed, takes only about twenty minutes. In this case, the benefits may outweigh the risks.
  • In most states, you do not need a prescription to have a mammogram, you simply need to make the appointment. As long as you are over forty years of age, you can give yourself the referral. Make sure that facility is certified by regulating agencies including the Food and Drug Administration. Bring copies of previous mammograms with you, especially if you are using this facility for the first time.
  • Mammograms are extremely effective for early detection and has reduced the United States breast cancer mortality rates by almost forty percent. 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. At age forty, you should get your mammogram even if you have no unusual symptoms and there is no history of breast cancer in your family.

How can I observe National Mammography day in my own life?

There are many ways you can step up and spread awareness about National Mammography Day! Here are a few suggestions:

  • If you have been putting off getting your mammogram, stop putting it off now! You might be putting it off because you are scared, or maybe you are in denial about being forty, but make that appointment and stick with it! Keep in mind that out of every 1,000 women who get screened, about 100 are asked to do another mammography or allow ultrasound imagery. Twenty women will be referred for a biopsy and only five are diagnosed with breast cancer. Even with an abnormal mammogram, there may not be cancer detected so take the plunge and make your appointment on National Mammography Day.
  • Do a breast self-exam and renew your commitment to do a monthly breast self-exam. Call on your medical care team or nurse practitioner for an appointment to show you the correct way to do one. You can also search for our articles which walk you through the steps. Take care of your body!
  • Wear some pink clothing when you’re out and about! Pink is the official color of breast cancer awareness month, including National Mammography day. Proudly wear your pink and encourage other people to do the same thing.

Here are some things you should know about breast cancer.

  • Know your risk factors. Did you know that you may have a higher breast cancer risk if you have dense breasts, are post-menopausal, started your period before age twelve, started your menopause after fifty-five, never had a baby or had your first child after thirty and you did not breastfeed?
  • Mammograms do have some limitations. If you have dense breast tissue, a mammogram may have trouble detecting breast cancer.
  • Educate yourself about mammograms and what they really do. Mammograms are important annually because they detect, but do not prevent breast cancer.
  • Some mammograms, like 3D, can see through dense breast tissue. 3D mammography or tomosynthesis are the most modern screening tool for breast cancer detention because you can see better images of dense breast tissue than with traditional machines.
  • Even if you have breast implants, you can still get screened. It is imperative that you get regular mammograms to ensure the health of your breasts.

These are some of the top suggestions on how you can lower your overall risk for developing breast cancer. If you can, adopt some of these into your daily routine and lifestyle today.

  • Control your weight. It is easy to tune out because it gets said so often, but maintaining a healthy weight is an important goal for everyone. Being overweight can increase the risk of many different cancers, including breast cancer, especially after menopause.
  • Be physically active whenever you can. Exercise is as close to a gold standard for good health as there is, and women who are physically active for at least thirty minutes a day have a lower risk of breast cancer. Regular exercise is also one of the best ways to help keep weight in check.
  • Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables each day and be sure to avoid alcohol. A healthy diet can help lower the risk of breast cancer. Try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and keep alcohol at moderate levels or lower. While moderate drinking can be good for the heart in older adults, even low levels of intake can increase the risk of breast cancer. If you do not drink, do not feel you need to start. If you drink moderately, there’s likely no reason to stop. But, if you drink more, you should cut down or quit.
  • Don’t smoke. Smokers and non-smokers alike know how unhealthy smoking is. On top of lowering quality of life and increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and at least fifteen other cancers, including breast cancer, it also causes smelly breath, bad teeth, and wrinkles. Now that’s motivation to stay smoke-free or work to get smoke-free.
  • If you are planning to have children, breastfeed them whenever possible. Breastfeeding for a total of one year or more, combined for all of your children, lowers the risk of breast cancer. It also has great health benefits for the child.
  • Educate yourself on birth control pills, especially if you are over age thirty-five or a smoker. Birth control pills have both risks and benefits. The younger a woman is, the lower the risks are. While women are taking birth control pills, they have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. This risk goes away quickly, though, after stopping the pill. The risk of stroke and heart attack is also increased while on the pill – particularly if a woman smokes. However, long-term use can also have important benefits, like lowering the risk of ovarian cancer, colon cancer and uterine cancer – not to mention unwanted pregnancy – so there’s also a lot in its favor. If you’re very concerned about breast cancer, avoiding birth control pills is one option to lower risk.
  • Avoid ingesting or using anything with hormones, so your post-menopausal hormones are not affected. Post-menopausal hormones shouldn’t be taken long term to prevent chronic diseases, like osteoporosis and heart disease. Studies show they have a mixed effect on health, increasing the risk of some diseases and lowering the risk of others, and both estrogen only hormones and estrogen-plus-progestin hormones increase the risk of breast cancer. If women do take post-menopausal hormones, it should be for the shortest time possible. The best person to talk to about the risks and benefits of post-menopausal hormones is your doctor.

Resources Used:



Reclaiming Intimacy

To find a free mammography site in your state, visit: In Indiana, the location for this service is:

St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital

8550 Naab Rd., Ste. 300
Indianapolis, Indiana 46260

Back to blog