That leads to another possibility -- that women simply forget about undergoing the screening.
"A number of patients, it just falls off their radar," Buzdar said.
Discomfort and embarrassment also are believed to play a part, both Buzdar and Naughton said. "Physical discomfort is definitely a discouraging factor," Naughton said.
Finally, women might be avoiding the screening, because they just don't want to hear they might have cancer.
"They just don't want to hear the news, even if it's better to hear it when they can't feel anything," Buzdar said. "But detecting the disease early is in your best interest. You can successfully beat the cancer if it's detected early, versus just hoping that there's nothing there."
To learn more about mammography, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Michael Naughton, breast cancer oncologist at the Siteman Cancer Center of the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, and assistant professor of medicine in the university's division of medical oncology, and a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology; Aman Buzdar, M.D., professor of medicine and deputy chairman of the department of breast medical oncology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston; National Cancer Institute; American Cancer Society
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