There are countless reasons why women don’t get their recommended yearly mammograms after the age of 40. The exam can be costly for those who don’t have insurance or access to other payment assistance programs, and some women have trouble getting transportation to mammogram appointments or getting the time off work to go to one. And, of course, some women simply avoid getting mammograms because they’re worried about them being painful or resulting in a cancer diagnosis.
However, getting regular mammograms is super important. They can help diagnose cancer long before a lump or other symptoms appear, which could save some women’s lives and make treatment plans less rigorous and time-consuming for others.
That’s why some clinics are making moves to try to entice women to make mammogram appointments and actually show up to them. The new movement has been nicknamed “mammoglam,” because it appeals to women’s glamorous sides and attempts to paint the picture of a mammogram as being more like a spa appointment than a doctor appointment.
Some clinics have jazzed up their exam rooms with features like massage chairs, adjustable lighting, televisions, fragrances, and “sound baths” to make the experience more calming and inviting. Many of them offer a selection of robes and gowns so that patients can wear what makes them feel most comfortable.
At the Fairview Clinic in Eagan, Minnesota, staff members even hosted a V.I.P. night with a beverage bar, massage chairs, and warm robes to make women feel pampered and special. Each guest was offered a goodie bag full of items like lip balm, mints, snacks, adult coloring books, and pedicure accessories to take home with them.
Besides all the obvious perks of an event like this, the evening timeframe also allows women who work to get to their appointment without taking time off from work. Some clinics, like the Solis Mammography chain, offer evening appointments and online follow-ups to make scheduling easier for their patients. Solis also aims to get patients in and out in about half an hour to avoid wasting their time.
Or there’s the new imaging location at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. This clinic offers a less hospital-like atmosphere and a variety of different robes and gowns for patients to choose from, some in different sizes instead of the one not-so-accommodating standard hospital gown size. Their waiting room has bold-patterned walls, adjustable lighting, personal lockers, music, marble-topped tables, and potted orchids.
“I was trying to put color in but, honestly, inject a little bit of life and positivity,” says Robert J. Min, chairman of radiology. “We’re very conscious about, no one wants to be there—it’s not like going to an Apple Store.”
Most mammogram guidelines recommend starting the potentially life-saving screening at age 40 and continuing to get one each year after that. However, only about 65 percent of women over age 40 actually get their annual mammograms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Would you be more likely to get a mammogram if it came with V.I.P. treatment?
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?