Our View: Screening can save lives

Published 9:29 am Thursday, October 11, 2018

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women. In the U.S., more than 250,000 women will be be diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and more than 40,500 will die.

While the statistics surrounding breast cancer can be terrifying, it is estimated more than 3.3 million breast cancer survivors are living the U.S. today.

That means there is hope.

It is estimated one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, but early detection can be the key to survival. In fact, with early detection, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent.

Some of the avenues for early detection include performing breast self-exams at home and seeing a doctor if you discover a lump or changes in the breast tissue or skin.

Clinical breast exams performed by nurses or doctors checking for lumps or physical abnormalities can also be effective.

One of the most essential keys, though, is mammography. Mammograms allow specialists to examine the breast tissue more closely. These tests often show a breast lump before it can be felt.

At Clark Regional Medical Center, patients can have 3D images of their breast tissue taken at the CRMC outpatient imaging center. A mammography machine that has been available since November 2017 can take images of the breast tissue layer by layer to give a more comprehensive look.

Throughout the month of October, the outpatient imaging center is offering extended hours for Mammo-Mondays, which will be from 7:45 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. each Monday.

The exam takes about 10 minutes and most insurances are accepted. In most cases, a referral from a primary care doctor is not necessary.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation offers these guidelines for scheduling mammograms:

— Women 40 and older should have mammograms every one or two years.

— Women who are younger than 40 and have risk factors for breast cancer should ask their healthcare professional whether mammograms are advisable and how often to have them.

— Even women who have no symptoms and no known risks for breast cancer should have regularly-scheduled mammograms to help detect potential breast cancer at the earliest possible time.

Use this month, when media, stores and more are flooded with pink, as a reminder to have your annual exam. It could be the difference between life and death.