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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Know your risks and get screened.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Know your risks and get screened.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a great reminder to schedule your mammogram.

Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that develops from cells in the breast, and according to the American Cancer Society, it accounts for one in three of all new female cancers each year. It is estimated that more than 43,000 women will die from breast cancer in 2022.

The average risk of a woman in the U.S. developing breast cancer during her lifetime is about 13%, which means there’s an 87% chance she never will.

One answer to mitigating risk is annual screening.

Lori McCaskill, a patient access representative, who works with Judith Rosso, DO, at CVMC Senior Care. McCaskill said she had put off her annual mammogram for months due to COVID-19 and was reminded by Rosso to get it done.

They found something.

McCaskill was scheduled for an ultrasound right away. And then, she was scheduled for surgery with CVMC general surgeon, Timothy King, MD.

“Dr. King is one of the premier breast cancer surgeons in the area, and he also does plastic surgery, so my scarring was minimal,” McCaskill said.

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

How is breast cancer diagnosed?

Doctors may use multiple tests to find or diagnose breast cancer, according to the CDC, including:

  • A screening mammogram, which is used to detect a tumor or lump in the breast
  • A diagnostic mammogram, or a more detailed x-ray of your breast tissue, is recommended if you have a problem in your breast, such as lumps, or if an area of your breast looks abnormal on a screening mammogram.
  • Breast ultrasound or sonogram makes pictures of areas inside the breast using sound waves.
  • Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a kind of imaging test using magnets and radio waves to check for abnormalities in soft tissue.
  • A biopsy is done if your doctor feels a lump or thickening in breast tissue, or if your mammogram showed suspicious abnormalities. Biopsy results can show whether the area is cancerous and can help your doctor determine if you need additional surgery or further treatment.

The CDC says mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early for many women. Early detection is important to catch cancer before it has progressed enough to feel or cause symptoms and is easier to treat.

What is a 3D Mammogram?

CVMC offers the most sophisticated digital 3D mammography equipment in the industry, which provides a high-quality image to the radiologist for an accurate diagnosis. Mammography is a specific type of imaging that uses a low-dose x-ray system to examine breasts. A mammography exam, called a mammogram, is used to aid in the early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women. We offer different types of mammograms to give patients their best chance for an early, accurate diagnosis.

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.

Tips for your best screening (click here to watch our video on how to prepare):

  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.

Know your risk for breast cancer

Gender, age, genetics, and race all impact your risk for breast cancer. Knowing your family history can help with finding the right screening for your genetic makeup.

McCaskill said she hopes her story will encourage people to get screened and to learn their family histories.

“I’m adopted so I didn’t know my family history until I found out about my biological mother who had died from brain cancer,” she said. “The doctors felt it came from a primary source like lung or breast cancer that metastasized into her brain.”

Even if your family history doesn’t point directly at a genetic issue, McCaskill said it may point to the kinds of testing you should do.

“The guidelines have always been to get your first mammogram at age 40 if you have a family history of cancer,” she said. “But if you think something is not right, be your own best advocate and get screened. It’s very important to get screened on a yearly basis.”

Other risk factors

While family history may be out of your control, several risk factors may be within your control:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of screening
  • Being overweight
  • Taking hormones, such as oral contraceptives
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Smoking

Learn more about managing your risk factors for breast cancer with this resource from the CDC.

How to Schedule a Mammogram:

As your partner in health and wellness, Carson Valley Medical Center ensures convenient, affordable access to breast cancer screening services year-round. Throughout October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are offering 3D mammography screenings for $50*.

Schedule your appointment today by calling (775) 782-1533.

*The $50 discounted rate applies to screenings scheduled Monday-Friday in October and cash, check or credit card payments are required at the time of service. Insurances will not be billed for discounted screenings. The price includes screening and radiology reading. Screening mammogram only, no implants at the discounted rate.