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Adventist Health Encourages Mammograms During Breast Awareness Cancer Month

Breast Cancer Awareness

September 27, 2017 (Clearlake, Calif.) – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Adventist Health Clear Lake is encouraging regular breast screenings as an important part of a healthy future for Lake County men and women. 

One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, and early detection is key to treating the disease. “You have a better chance of beating breast cancer when it is found and treated early, while it’s small and hasn’t spread,” says Amber Thompson, director of the Medical Imaging department. “The best way to detect breast cancer early is to be screened regularly.” 

Screening isn’t possible for many kinds of cancer, but it is with breast cancer. “Research shows that women who have regular mammograms are more likely to have breast cancer found early, less likely to need aggressive treatment such as a mastectomy or chemotherapy, and more likely to be cured,” says Thompson. 

Adventist Health Clear Lake’s 3D Mammography service has increased detection capability for Lake County residents. Studies show that 3D mammography results in a 29% increase in detection of all breast cancers and a 41% increase in detection of invasive breast cancers. 

The American Cancer Society recommends that starting at age 40 women at average risk should have the choice to begin yearly mammograms. Women should begin yearly mammograms at age 45, and they can switch to every 2 years at age 55. Thompson recommends patients discuss their risks factors and appropriate screenings with their healthcare provider. 

Michelle Merwin, an x-ray technologist with over 30 years of experience, performs 3D mammography screenings at Adventist Health Clear Lake’s Medical Imaging location in Clearlake. She offers these tips to women to prepare for their mammogram screening: 

What to wear. Wear a two-piece outfit (a shirt with pants, a skirt or shorts) so that you’ll only have to remove your top and bra. It’s also important to not apply deodorant, lotions or other ointments on your chest on the day of your mammogram. “These products can appear as white spots on the image,” explains Merwin. 

When to schedule. Breasts can be tender the week before and during menstrual periods, so Merwin recommends scheduling mammograms one to two weeks after your period starts.

What to expect. During the 3D imaging session, an X-ray tube moves in an arc over the breast, taking multiple images in a matter of seconds. This is done with the same two compressions per breast as a 2D mammogram. The entire procedure takes about 20 minutes. “Flattening the breast tissue can be uncomfortable for some women, but it is important to provide a clearer view of the breast,” Merwin explains. 

Getting the results. You should have your results mailed to you within a week. If the radiologist finds anything suspicious in the images, you’ll be contacted by your primary care provider to schedule new images or other test. 

Adventist Health Clear Lake’s 3D Mammography service began offering the latest technology to Lake County women in June 2016. 3D Mammography exams are covered and paid for by Medicare and Medicaid and most private insurances. The service and bone density (DXA) scanning are offered at Adventist Health Clear Lake’s Medical Imaging location at 15322 Lakeshore Drive in Clearlake. Appointments for 3D mammography screenings are available by calling (707) 995-5638.