We're kicking of national breast cancer awareness month with a look at early cancer detection.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women. That's why regular screening is vital. For women over 40 an annual mammogram can save your life. Mammograms don't prevent breast cancer, but they can save lives by finding the disease as early as possible.
Dr. Josie Alpers says digital mammography being offered at Avera McKennan Breast Care Center acts like another set of eyes, making it easier for radiologists like her to detect breast cancer. "We're able to find the smaller earlier stages of breast cancer in younger women which means they have a much better chance of excellent prognosis," she said.
The old technology produces only one film. It had to be hand-carried to doctors, with digital mammography, an image is stored on a computer screen. "One of best things is that we can see through dense breast tissue much better than we could with analog mammogram," she said. "So we know that a negative is more likely to be a negative"
"It really gives us a full picture of how we can take care of women in this community," said Keith Miller.
The discomfort some might feel during the mammography compression is one reason some women don't get regular screenings.
But the Mammopad being used at Avera McKennan Breast Care Center provides a warm cushion for the breast during the exam. Not all hospitals use it, but its another way Sioux Falls women can find comfort in taking care of their health.
One of the best things about the digital test, is not only can you manipulate the image to get the best view, you can quickly e-mail it anywhere. This could make a difference if a radiologist wants a colleague's opinion.
Schedule your digital mammogram today by calling 1-877-AT AVERA or go to www.averamckennan.org
Even if you don't have health insurance, you can still get a free mammogram every year. "All Women Count!" provides free mammograms for women who need them. You can call them at 1-800-738-2301.