Mammogram Parties Draw Crowds

As studies show a declining rate of women getting mammograms, a facility in Orlando has come up with a way to attract women for the breast cancer screenings.

The Florida Radiology Imaging Center turns its waiting room into a woman's haven two nights a week, throwing a party for women who come to get their mammograms.

And "Midnight Mammograms" are working, reports CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella. The parties are booked through next month.

Women are given refreshments, manicures, pedicures, and more, before and after they undergo their test.

The only price of admission is an insurance card and a prescription.

"How much better can life be, you know?" asked one partygoer. "This is fabulous!"

"They're the poster children of why we needed to do this," observes the imaging center's Dr. Charlotte Ellenberger, who says many women today don't make the time to get their mammogram, even though they know how important it is.

"Screening mammograms decrease breast cancer mortality by at least 25 percent." Ellenberger says, "and some studies (show) up to 50 percent. So, we know they save lives. ... It's just a matter of getting women in. We have to get women here to get them."

"I have never seen a group have so much fun having a mammogram as the group here" the night Cobiella showed up. "They're very relaxed about it. I think that what's important is that we made it easy for them ... and if one woman tells her friend, 'Hey, having mammogram wasn't a bad thing,' and convinces her friend to come, then we've been successful."

And none too soon, says Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay.

The journal "Cancer," published by the American Cancer Society, reported earlier this year that, after rising steadily until about 2000, the percentage of American women over 40 getting regular mammograms leveled off, then started to decline. By 2005, mammography rates nationwide had fallen by about four percent. The researchers couldn't say why fewer women were getting mammograms, but they were quite concerned that women who should be helping to protect their health with mammograms have stopped getting them, or are getting too few.

The Cancer Society's mammogram guidelines couldn't be simpler, Senay says: Once you turn 40, you should have a mammogram once a year. Not every three years. Every year. If a woman is found to be at especially high breast cancer risk, they may need to start getting mammograms even sooner, or more often. But, for most women, it's every year, starting at age 40.

Some women choose a day each year that's special to them, like a birthday or an anniversary, and make the mammogram part of that day's activities, Senay points out. But, she adds, however a woman helps herself remember, she's doing herself a service by getting that mammogram, every single year, so any potential cancer will be detected, and potentially treated, as soon as possible.