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The importance of annual mammograms

Posted at 7:10 AM, Oct 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-04 09:25:21-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, which is why it’s important to talk about preventative measures people can take to protect themselves.

A recent study conducted by the Society for Women’s Health Research found that only around 35% of women over the age of 40 get annual mammograms. I spoke with one breast ultrasound professional who offered insight on the symptoms of breast cancer and the importance of getting your annual mammogram.

“Symptoms, there are several different types of symptoms. There can be a lump in the breast, a bump in the armpit area, nipple inversion, nipple discharge, skin thickening, but then there are also times where there are no symptoms at all and so that’s why it’s so important to come in and get your annual mammograms because those will find the smallest form of breast cancer,” Natalie Kietzman, Lead Mammography, Breast Ultrasound of Optum in Colorado Springs, said.

The smallest form of breast cancer can be impossible for women at home to detect during their monthly self-examinations.

“Smallest form is what we call microcalcifications, that’s not something you’re going to be able to feel. We actually bring the patient in and we magnify the area so that’s going to show the characteristics of those microcalcifications, so that’s anything you’re going to see, a sign of breast cancer,” Kietzman said.

Today’s modern technology allows patients to get 2-D and 3-D mammograms and both are beneficial for the patient. “2-D and 3-D are the same for the patient, we position the same, we compress the same. The biggest difference is the camera with 2-D takes two pictures, one straight on for each view of the breast, with 3-D, the camera doesn’t arch over the breast, and actually takes several pictures along the way so the doctor can scroll away from the skin cover, to skin cover, like the pages of a book.”

If caught early at the localized stage, breast cancer has a 99% survivability rate. Optum is extending their hours to make it more available for women who are working to come in and get their mammograms. To call and schedule an appointment, visit here.