A Mammogram Can Be A Lifesaver

[Image Description: Two circular orange life preservers float in water on the bottom right corner, with the text "A mammogram can be a lifesaver" in orange and cursive font above. The Women's 5K Class logo is on the bottom left corner and the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center logo is on the top right corner.]

A Mammogram Can Be A Lifesaver

Early detection is your best protection


A Mammogram Can Be A Lifesaver is Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center's campaign to increase mammography rates in the Lehigh Valley.

A mammogram is an x-ray image of the breast. Routine mammograms can detect cancer early, before the cancer presents any signs or symptoms [1]. This is when the chances of a full recovery are highest and why early detection is your best protection [1].

Everyone should be familiar with the process of mammograms. Most people who were assigned female at birth should receive annual mammograms after age 45, but each individual should talk with their provider about when and how often they should be screened via mammography [2]. Mammograms do not require a prescription/referral, but you will need a primary care provider or OB-GYN to send the mammogram results to. Furthermore, routine mammograms are considered an essential health benefit under the Affordable Care Act (meaning, it is free to receive a mammogram at appropriate intervals recommended by your provider) [3].

LGBT-affirming screening locations:

  • Allentown
    • Breast Health Services at Lehigh Valley Hospital –17th Street
      • 1627 W Chew St, Allentown, PA 18102, United States
    • Breast Health Services at Lehigh Valley Hospital – Cedar Crest
      • 1240 S Cedar Crest Blvd Suite 203, Allentown, PA 18103
    • Coordinated Health Allentown– Cedar Crest
      • 1405 N Cedar Crest Blvd, Allentown, PA 18104
  •  Bethlehem
    • Breast Health Services at Lehigh Valley Hospital – Muhlenberg
      • 2597 Schoenersville Rd Suite 202, Bethlehem, PA 18017
    • Coordinated Health Allentown – Highland Ave.
      • 2030 Highland Ave, Bethlehem, PA 18020
  •  Hazleton
    • Health & Wellness Center at Hazleton
      • 50 Moisey Dr, Hazleton, PA 18201
  •  Stroudsburg
    • Health Center at Bartonsville          
      • 600 Commerce Blvd, Stroudsburg, PA 18360
  • Various Locations



Numerous studies show that lesbian and bisexual women are less likely to get routine mammographic screenings than the majority population [4, 5, 6]. This disparity in breast cancer screenings is even more disturbing among transgender and non-binary people for whom regular mammograms are recommended (individuals assigned female at birth) [4]. Despite the fact that regular mammograms can be a life saver, fear of discrimination in healthcare environments, dissociation with gendered body parts, and limited access to care all prevent the LGBT community from receiving routine and life-saving breast cancer screenings [4]

What's more, the LGBT community as a whole engages in higher risk-of-cancer behaviors, such as smoking tobacco, as a result of social and cultural experiences with discrimination, familial homophobia and/or transphobia, and minority stress [4, 6]. All these behaviors and life experiences contribute to a higher risk of breast cancer [6]. Thankfully, routine mammograms can detect cancer early, when chances of survival are highest: early detection is your best protection [1]. The American Cancer Society recommends that most people assigned female at birth receive an annual mammogram after age 50, but each individual should talk with their provider about when and how often they should be screened via mammography [2]. Mammograms are also recommended for people who are on long-term estrogen therapy.



The need for increased awareness of mammography needs for LGBT people is clear: Across the country, only about 5% of women have never received a mammogram in their lives; In Pennsylvania, 1 in 5 of LGBT people who are eligible for routine mammograms have never had one (21.2%) [4, 6]. Even more shockingly, nearly half of eligible of transgender, non-binary, or genderqueer respondents (49.4%) Pennsylvanians have never had a mammogram - a rate ten times higher than the majority population [4].

Mammograms are the best screening tool used today to detect breast cancer early. In fact, research studies repeatedly find that individuals are much more likely to beat and survive breast cancer if it was detected via mammography [1, 7]. Early detection is your best protection, and a mammogram could be a lifesaver. 



There continue to be numerous barriers that prevent LGBT people from receiving care. Negative health outcomes for LGBT people are due to the cumulative and intersecting impact of many different factors, particularly their reduced access to employer-provided health insurance, the social stigma that exists against LGBT people, and a lack of cultural competence in the healthcare system [4, 6]. Many do not tell the doctor about their sexual orientation, because they don’t want discrimination to affect the quality of healthcare they receive [4]. Fear of having a negative experience with a health care provider can lead some people to delay or avoid medical care, especially routine care such as early detection tests [4]. Missing routine cancer screenings can lead to the disease being diagnosed at a later stage, when it’s harder to treat. For transgender men, barriers to breast screening tests are compounded with providers that lack cultural humility and medical competency regarding gendered body care for the transgender patient population. In fact, one in three LGBT people in Pennsylvania report having had a negative past experience from a healthcare professional when they shared their LGBT identity (32.1%), and almost half of LGBT Pennsylvanians may fear going to a healthcare professional as a result of past or potenial negative experiences (45.9%) [4]. Of critical importance is being screened in an LGBT-affirming location.



A Mammogram Can Be A Lifesaver is an evidenced-based campaign to increase mammographic testing among LGBT people assigned female at birth in the Lehigh Valley.

A Mammogram Can Be A Lifesaver was funded in part through a grant from Women's 5K Classic.


Developed resources reported in this project are supported by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012342 with the University of Pittsburgh, Health Sciences Library System. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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  1. “Mammograms: Benefits and Risks.” Breastcancer.org. Breastcancer.org, November 6, 2019. https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/mammograms/benefits_risks
  2. Oeffinger, Kevin C., Elizabeth T. H. Fontham, Ruth Etzioni, Abbe Herzig, James S. Michaelson, Ya-Chen Tina Shih, Louise C. Walter, et al. “Breast Cancer Screening for Women at Average Risk:2015 Guideline Update from the American Cancer Society.” JAMA 314, no. 15 (April 14, 2016): 1599–1614. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2015.12783
  3. “Women's Preventive Services Guidelines.” Official web site of the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration. Official web site of the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration, December 17, 2019. https://www.hrsa.gov/womens-guidelines/index.html. 
  4. 2022 Pennsylvania LGBTQ Health Needs Assessment. Research & Evaluation Group at Public Health Management Corporation & Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center. 2023.
  5. “QuickStats: Percentage of U.S. Women Aged 50–74 Years Who Never Had a Mammogram, by Place of Birth and Length of Residence in the United States.” National Health Interview Survey of 2013 and 2015, March 24, 2017.  http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6611a8
  6. Margolies, Liz. “Lesbians and Breast Cancer Risk.” National LGBT Cancer Network. National LGBT Cancer Network. Accessed October 2020. https://cancer-network.org/cancer-information/lesbians-and-cancer/lesbians-and-breast-cancer-risk/. 
  7. Maiz, Cristóbal, Fernando Silva, Francisco Domínguez, Héctor Galindo, Mauricio Camus, Augusto León, David Oddó, et al. “Mammography Correlates to Better Survival Rates in Breast Cancer Patients: a 20-Year Experience in a University Health Institution.” Ecancermedicalscience 14 (January 23, 2020). https://doi.org/10.3332/ecancer.2020.1005. 


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