In observance of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, McLeod Regional Medical Center is raising awareness of breast cancer, the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, there are more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States today.
Numerous studies have shown that when breast cancer is diagnosed at an early, localized stage, it has a very high cure rate of greater than ninety percent. Yearly screening mammograms can also help to detect breast cancer early when it is very treatable. The American Cancer Society provides the following breast cancer screening guidelines:
· Mammogram: Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and keep on doing so for as long as they are in good health.
· Clinical breast exam: Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a regular exam by a health expert, at least every three years. After age 40, women should have a clinical breast exam by a health expert every year.
· Breast self-exam (BSE): Beginning in their 20s, women should be told about the benefits and limitations of BSE. Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to a health care provider right away.
Although risks for breast cancer include factors that cannot be changed (such as being female, age, and family history), there are some actions that may reduce a woman’s risk of getting breast cancer. Staying at a healthy weight throughout life, adopting a physically active lifestyle, and limiting alcohol consumption may help reduce breast cancer risk.
Mammography is one of the most important techniques that doctors use to detect breast cancer. A large benefit of a mammogram is its ability to detect problem areas even before they can be felt in a breast self-exam. Finding breast cancer earlier means much lower levels of lymph node involvement, and that more women being treated for cancer are eligible for breast conservation.
While standard film mammography creates an image directly on film, digital mammography takes an electronic image and stores it directly in a computer. Digital mammography holds many benefits: the images captured by a digital system are extremely clear and detailed with improved contrast, digital mammography allows a physician to see a spot as small as a grain of sand, and digital imaging also reduces patient waiting time and administers a lower radiation dose. In addition, Radiologists can use computer software to help interpret digital mammograms.
The McLeod Breast Health Center
The McLeod Breast Health Center features three digital mammography units. A fourth digital mammography unit is located on the McLeod Mobile Mammography Unit. The availability of these four digital units at McLeod Regional Medical Center makes digital mammography more accessible to residents of the community, and assists McLeod in the fight against breast cancer.
In addition, the McLeod Breast Health Center is the first in the region to achieve a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence designation by the American College of Radiology (ACR).
This designation confirms that McLeod meets national standards in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. It further demonstrates that McLeod is providing the highest level of care available to women facing breast cancer in the region.
All women ages 40 and over are encouraged to schedule an annual digital mammogram. Please call McLeod Reservations and Scheduling at (843) 777-2095 for appointments.
For more information, please visit www.McLeodRadiology.org.