Women Should Not Wait Until Symptoms Have Developed
Female patients in the New London area were not afraid to “get their ta ta’s screened” last month. And a family physician in Waupaca applauds women such as those in New London who schedule their mammograms, which can detect breast cancer early.
During an internal challenge at ThedaCare Physicians-New London, over 350 mammograms were scheduled. “We have found a few patients with concerns that we will be doing follow up with,” said Cheryl Seelig, clinic manager and a breast cancer survivor who encouraged the competition. “The competition has been very well received. The staff are excited and we even had a pink day where we had matching shirts to wear that stated ‘get your mammogram.’ Next year will be a new fun competition.”
Studies show that a screening mammogram can help reduce the number of women aged 40 to 74 from dying from breast cancer. Mammography uses low-dose X-rays to create images of the breast. These images, called mammograms, help find early signs of breast cancer such as a dense mass or clusters of calcium called microcalcifications. An X-ray of the breast is taken while the breast is compressed and flattened between two plates. There will be some pressure but each X-ray only takes a few seconds.
There are estimated to be 232,670 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in women in the United States in 2014. But women should not wait until a problem is detected. Preventive screenings help to detect cancer early before any symptoms have developed.
Chances of getting breast cancer increases with age, said Zachary Baeseman, MD, family physician at ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca. “The good news is that a mammogram can help us to find breast cancer early, usually a year and a half to two years before a lump is big enough to be felt,” he said.
All women need to get a mammogram, even if no one in their family has had breast cancer, said Dr. Baeseman. “Three out of four women who get breast cancer do not have a strong family history,” he said. “As women get older, their chances of getting breast cancer increase even if no one in their family ever had it. Waiting until health problems become serious is what usually requires more intense treatment and care. Having a mammogram helps to find breast cancer early so treatment can be started.”
To schedule a mammogram, contact your physician’s office.