Monday Medical: Kick breast cancer where it hurts
Schedule your screening mammogram by calling 970-871-2399. Saturday appointments are available in October. For more information about the services offered, visit yvmc.org/breasthealth.
October means falling leaves, apple cider and the color pink everywhere you look.
This year, Yampa Valley Medical Center wants to spur women to get their annual mammograms with a little extra incentive: boots.
Women who have a mammogram in October or November at the Gloria Gossard Breast Health Center will have a chance to win a pair of Old Gringo boots donated by F.M. Light & Sons. These aren’t just any boots; they’re handcrafted, artisan boots with angel wings, colorful flowers or any design the winner chooses.
Cancer treatment is constantly advancing, but one basic rule about any cancer still holds; the earlier it’s found, the easier it is to fight. That’s why mammograms are so important. The goal is to find a cancer before it causes any symptoms, such as a lump that can be felt under the skin.
According to the American Cancer Society, about one in eight women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer. YVMC’s most recent community benefit study found that one in seven women will be diagnosed in Colorado. Besides skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women.
In 2014, YVMC performed nearly 2,700 mammograms. While the rate of screening in Northwest Colorado is good (65 percent of women 50 and older are screened), it’s below the Colorado and national goals of 80 percent.
The American Cancer Society recommends all women 40 and older have a mammogram every year for as long as they are in good health. For women at high risk for breast cancer, it’s recommended to begin screenings with MRI and mammograms at 30.
Various factors increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer. Some of those factors, such as lifestyle, can be changed. It’s recommended that all women get at least four hours of exercise each week, maintain a healthy weight and limit alcoholic drinks to one per day. Other risk factors can’t be changed, including family history and genetics.
Not having a particular risk factor doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be screened; in 75 percent of breast cancer diagnoses, there is no family history.
As with any screening, there are limitations; mammograms can result in false positives and can miss some cancers. But overall, screening mammography remains the best tool for detecting breast cancer early.
Women who have never had a mammogram should know that the screening is quick and painless. And at the Gloria Gossard Breast Health Center, steps are taken to make the process convenient, while creating a comfortable, relaxing environment.
“Our technologists are very well-trained, and they do a great job of making people comfortable,” said Dr. Terese Kaske, the center’s medical director. “Patients can decide to wait there for results, or they can be in and out. If we need to do something further, sometimes we can do it right then.”
If women already have a lump or other concern, Kaske strongly advises sharing that information at the time the appointment is made, so an order from a doctor for additional screenings can be obtained.
Last year, approximately 400 women had mammograms in October. About half took advantage of YVMC’s campaign.
So if you’ve been itching for a new pair of handcrafted boots, take the time to get a mammogram – this is one drawing you just might win. Even better, you’ll be taking care of yourself, and taking a step to kick breast cancer.
Susan Cunningham writes for Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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