Mammogram parties have been popping up across the country as women over age 40 RSVP for a night of hors d’oeuvres, spa treatments and breast X-rays. The gatherings try to put a festive face on a serious and sometimes uncomfortable topic.
A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast used to check for breast cancer in women. Screenings can help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer among women ages 40 to 70, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Mindy Kiser, an employee of InTrust Bank in Wichita, Kan., recently attended a "mamm party" and loved it, according to ABC News.
Thrown by InTrust, Kiser said she RSVP’d “yes” to the women-only event held at a local hospital, because she had just turned 40 and was worried about her family's cancer history.
“What a great way to take the preconceived notion that a mammogram is a horrible, uncomfortable experience and make it into lovely evening,” she said.
It's trend that seems to be growing nationwide.
Northern Nevada Medical Center now hosts similar mammogram parties for groups of six to 12 women. The goal is to lure in those women who might otherwise procrastinate and put the test off.
Annie Rodewald, and attendee at one for Northern Nevada's recent parties, said the plan seemed to be working.
"I am having fun," she told KTVN. "Way better than the last time I came her and had one. This time it didn't hurt, maybe it was the glass of wine I had before I went."
In Bellevue, Wash., Overlake Medical Center and Vantage Radiology also conducts the parties, which are covered by insurance. The hospital pays for refreshments, according to Bellevue Patch.
Dr. Elliott Sacks, a radiologist at Overlake Medical Center, said that even a "minor thing" can keep women from coming in for the test said these parties make it harder to keep giving excuses.
But others caution that while the parties are well-intentioned, there's still some disagreement about who should be getting the tests, and how often.
As ABC notes, the American Cancer Society recommends that all healthy women begin yearly mammogram testing at age 40, but the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that only women over 50 should get the test, and then receive them every two years until they reach 74.
Dr. Julie Silver, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School told ABC that women should be aware of the test's pros and cons before deciding to attend such a party.
“It may be a good way to improve compliance and make having a mammogram more enjoyable but not everyone should be invited,” she said. “Not every woman needs a mammogram and they should only be done based on the appropriate guidelines.”
Mammograms can also result in traumatic false positives as well as costly and ultimately unnecessary procedures, according to the Task Force.