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Your Healthy Family: Science and tech improving in breast cancer - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Your Healthy Family: Science and tech improving in breast cancer treatment

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Science and technology are changing rapidly in the battle against breast cancer Science and technology are changing rapidly in the battle against breast cancer
COLORADO SPRINGS -

As we continue with Breast Cancer Awareness month, science and technology are changing rapidly in the battle against breast cancer.  

Natalie Rankin clearly remembers the moment she was given the news.  "I think I was just shocked more than anything.” It was the day after her 30th birthday that Natalie Rankin found out.  It was in the shower that she first noticed the lump.

Natalie says, "You just have this intuition like you know, like I knew when it didn't go away, in my mind I was like you've got to the doctor."

Dr. Jason Allen is the Medical Director of Breast Imaging at UCHealth Memorial.  Dr. Allen is not involved with Natalie’s case, but says proactive mammograms are the best way to catch breast cancer early.

"A woman would come in usually takes it out and if the appointment is typically about twenty minutes or so the actual mammogram part maybe takes five minutes for both used to be generated on each breast.  There's some compression involved but it's a very quick procedure and it's very easy.  Generally the results are turned around very quickly so women don't have to wait and wonder what's going on."

Natalie's diagnosis was stage 1B breast cancer that she fortunately caught early.  After having a lumpectomy, Natalie went through chemotherapy and radiation.  Natalie knew the preconceived notions she had about treatment.  "Even with chemo, you always think of like the movies, like it's awful, you're sick all the time, and then you're in radiation for months."

But Natalie says for her, that wasn’t the case.  “I always say I'm like the worst cancer patient because I didn't burn, I just literally came here on my lunch breaks.  I was on my 5th week and I thought I was on my 3rd, and they were like ‘no, your next one's your last one’, and I was like ‘oh okay, this is nice.’"

Radiation therapy used to last 6 to 7 weeks, but can now be done in as little as 3 weeks for patients with early stage breast cancer says Dr. Melissa Mitchell, a radiation oncologist with the University of Kansas Medical Center.  "There have been several studies that have shown an increase in quality of life by getting the radiation done faster, less time off of work, again, there's less of the side effects as well."

Natalie says finishing her radiation in a shorter amount of time helped her put it all behind her.  

"Having that shorter time frame helps you kind of put it behind you, it will always be a part of you but it helps you kind of, okay I'm done with this, I can move on."

For more health stories including the latest recommendations from Dr. Allen, on when annual mammograms should start, click here. http://www.koaa.com/story/36551028/your-healthy-family-when-and-how-often-should-women-be-getting-a-yearly-mammogram

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