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I have a family member that hasn't had routine breast cancer screening. I'm wondering what is the process to get her in for a screening and how I should discuss this with her. She isn't always the most proactive when it comes to taking care of herself and I want to make the process as straightforward as possible. I don't even think she has a family doctor. Thanks!

  • User profile
    Anna(AI First Responder)Verified by Curio clinician

    Thank you for reaching out with your concern about your family member breast cancer screening. Breast cancer screenings can be an essential tool for early detection, which is critical to initiating effective treatment. Given the importance of this issue, it is great that you are looking into the potential options for your family member.

    The process to schedule a breast cancer screening can vary depending on where you live, but typically, the first step is to find a local clinic or medical facility that offers mammograms.

    If she doesn't have insurance, you can start by checking out resources like National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program ( or searching online.

    If she does have insurance, you should check directly with the insurance company to see which facilities are covered.

    Once you have identified a facility, you can either call them directly to schedule an appointment or have your family member call if she feels more comfortable doing so. It's important to note many clinics may require a referral from another physician, but certain clinics do not require a referral.

    There are also two types of mammograms that can be provided. Routine screening can happen on every 1 -2 years and is for people who don't have symptoms and diagnostic imaging is for people who is experiencing symptoms or to confirm findings from the routine screening.

    As for discussing this with your family member, it can be difficult to bring up a sensitive like healthcare, but it's important to approach this conversation with empathy. You can let her know that you care about her and her health and that you're there to support her through the process.

    You can explain that cancer is common and that can save lives by catching it early. You can offer to help with scheduling an appointment and offer to be there with her during the screening itself.

    Ultimately, it's important to respect your family member's autonomy and decision-making process. You can encourage her to take action, but ultimately, the decision to go through with a screening is hers to make. If she expresses hesitation or lack of interest, you can offer to provide additional resources or information to help her make an informed decision.

    I hope this information helpful, and please let know if you have any additional questions or concerns.

  • User profile
    Hillary Lin(Physician)

    I can deeply relate with your experience, Mark, both from the perspective as a doctor and as a family member to many who are a little avoidant about screenings and preventive health.

    1. Research nearby medical facilities: Look for local hospitals, clinics, or breast imaging centers that offer breast cancer screening services. Check their websites or make phone calls to inquire about the screening process and appointment availability.

    2. Understand the screening options: Familiarize yourself with the different types of breast cancer screenings available, such as mammograms and clinical breast exams. This knowledge will help you guide your family member through the process and answer any questions they may have.

    3. Approach the conversation with empathy: Choose a time when both of you can have a private and relaxed conversation. Express your concerns for their well-being and emphasize that early detection through routine screenings can significantly improve the chances of successful treatment.

    4. Educate about the importance of screening: Share information about breast cancer, including statistics, risk factors, and the benefits of early detection. Emphasize that routine screenings are recommended for all women, even in the absence of symptoms or a family doctor.

    5. Offer assistance in finding a healthcare provider: If your family member doesn't have a family doctor, offer to help them find one. Research local primary care physicians or general practitioners and provide them with a list of options. Suggest that they schedule a general check-up and mention their interest in breast cancer screening during the appointment.

    6. Provide logistical support: Offer to assist with the appointment scheduling process. You can make the initial phone call on their behalf or guide them through the online appointment booking system. If they prefer, you can accompany them to the appointment to offer support and reassurance.

    7. Follow up and remind: Since your family member may not be proactive in taking care of their health, gentle reminders can be helpful. Follow up with them regularly to ensure they have scheduled the screening appointment and offer any necessary assistance along the way.

    8. Share stories. One way to help them feel more comfortable with the process is by sharing stories about well-known people who have gone through the process themselves.

  • User profile
    Hillary Lin(Physician)

    Here are a few celebrity stories related to breast cancer screening that can potentially motivate your relative:

    Angelina Jolie: Angelina Jolie, the renowned actress and humanitarian, underwent a preventive double mastectomy after testing positive for a gene mutation (BRCA1) that increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. She publicly shared her experience to raise awareness about the importance of early detection and genetic testing for high-risk individuals.

    Sheryl Crow: The Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter, Sheryl Crow, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. She underwent successful treatment after early detection through a routine mammogram. Crow has since become an advocate for breast cancer awareness and encourages women to prioritize regular screenings.

    Christina Applegate: Actress Christina Applegate was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36. She opted for a double mastectomy and has been vocal about the importance of early detection and regular screenings. Applegate founded the Right Action for Women organization, which provides financial assistance for MRI screenings to women at increased risk of breast cancer.

    Julia Louis-Dreyfus: Emmy Award-winning actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus revealed her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017. She used her platform to share her journey and emphasize the significance of regular screenings. Louis-Dreyfus encouraged women to prioritize their health and not hesitate to undergo necessary screenings and treatment.

    These stories highlight the experiences of well-known individuals who have faced breast cancer and emphasize the importance of early detection through routine screenings. Sharing these stories with your relative may help motivate them to take action and prioritize their own health by scheduling a screening.