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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Schedule a mammogram: reduce your risk.

  • Category: CVMC News
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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Schedule a mammogram: reduce your risk.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 281,550 women in the United States will be diagnosed with new cases of invasive breast cancer in 2021. 2490 of these women live in Nevada. 400 women living in Nevada are expected to die of breast cancer this year.

Carson Valley Medical Center’s $40 million expansion program expands the CVMC Cancer Center’s treatment and care options. Learn more here.

Colleen Reid, Chief Financial Officer for Carson Valley Medical Center, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in October of 2019, after putting off a diagnostic mammogram for several months after discovering a lump she thought was related to an injury the previous October.

“In August of 2019, I had just told my mother that ignoring something is not a medical option, I figured I’d better follow my own advice,” she said.

Colleen scheduled her 3D mammogram at Carson Valley Medical Center.

CVMC radiologist, Dr. Paul Knight, read Colleen’s results and immediately ordered a biopsy. The results came back negative.

“Dr. Knight called me and said, ‘I don't believe the results. I want to redo the biopsy,’” Colleen said. “At that point, I just wanted them to take the lump out.”

Following the biopsy performed by CVMC general surgeon Dr. Timothy King, Colleen’s CVMC medical team began coordinating with a local oncologist.

Her oncologist ordered chemotherapy to begin in December, after the second surgery by Dr. King to remove the lump and Colleen’s lymph nodes.

Following six rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, Colleen is cancer free.

“Early detection is so important,” she said. “I called Dr. Knight and thanked him. I owe him my life and my longevity for his attention to detail. He and all of the providers at CVMC are meticulous and really care for their patients.”

Read more about Carson Valley Medical Center’s Cancer Center here.

Mammograms and breast cancer screenings increase women’s chances of survival.

Mammograms are able to show lumps up to three years before you or your healthcare provider can see or feel them by hand. This is crucial. More treatment options are available and survival rates are higher when breast cancer is discovered in early stages.

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is an X-ray of your breast tissue.

Your breasts are pressed between two flat plates, which flatten them and hold them still while X-ray images are taken from the top, bottom, and sides of each breast. An X-ray technician makes sure that the images are not blurry and do not need to be re-done. Next, a radiologist (a doctor with special training to read X-rays) reviews the images for any abnormalities or early signs of breast cancer. Within a few weeks, the radiologist informs your primary healthcare provider of the results. Your primary healthcare provider will contact you to discuss whether additional testing is necessary.

Keep in mind: an abnormal mammogram does not necessarily mean that you have cancer. If a lump shows up in your imaging, your doctor will run more tests to diagnose or rule out cancer. These tests may include another mammogram or an ultrasound.

Tips for your best screening:

  1. Mammograms can be uncomfortable. Avoid scheduling your appointment around the time of your period. Your breasts may be more sensitive during this time.
  2. Skip your usual deodorant, powder, or perfume before your appointment. Residue on the breast can show up as white spots on the images.
  3. Wear a blouse and pants or a skirt instead of a dress. You’ll need to undress from the waist up.

Who needs a mammogram?

The American Cancer Society offers these guidelines:

  • 40-44 years old: Women can choose to start yearly screenings and mammograms
  • 45-54: Yearly mammograms are recommended.
  • 55+: Mammograms are recommended yearly or every other year.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you are unsure whether you need to schedule a mammogram.

Reduce your risk for breast cancer.