By Kathy Hubbard
It’s what? It’s October. It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a Sip and Screen Mammo Party at Bonner General Health and it’s never been more fun to have a mammogram.
Thirty-six lucky women who will call or go online for their appointment right now, will not only be screened with the state-of-the-art 3-D mammography equipment, they will also get drinks (rumor has it there will be mimosas), appetizers and sweets to make the day a memorable, positive experience. Oh and prizes. I almost forgot to tell you that there will be prizes every hour and some very special gift certificates they are.
Where and when? Sandpoint Women’s Health on the second floor of BGH Medical Building at Third and Cedar is the place and the date is Saturday, October 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Who needs to do this? If you’re between the ages of forty and forty-four you have the option to start screening every year, so says the American Cancer Society. Women between forty-five and fifty-four should get mammograms every year. After fifty-five you can switch to every other year and continue that schedule as long as you’re in good health and expect to live another ten years.
Make it a party by encouraging your friends to sign up for the same time period as you. All you need to do is call 208-265-3349 or go to www.bonnergeneral.org/mammo-party and click on the appointment request button.
The American College of Radiology’s website called Mammography Saves Lives, says that for every 1,000 women who have a screening mammogram 100 are recalled to get more mammography or ultrasound images, twenty are recommended for a needle biopsy and five are diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Annual mammograms can detect cancer early – when it is most treatable. In fact, mammograms show changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them. Mammograms can also prevent the need for extensive treatment for advanced cancers and improve chances of breast conservation,” ACR says.
If you’ve never had a mammogram, I have to tell you it’s not nearly as bad as you think it’s going to be. Yes, you have to strip to the waist, so plan accordingly when you choose what to wear. You should not use any deodorant, powders or lotions before the screening, but if you forget they’ll give you wipes. Use them, or your test may show shadows that look suspicious but really are just fragrant products.
The tech has seen every size and shaped breast before, yours will not be impressive, trust me. If it is, maybe they’ll send me a note. Kidding. What I’m trying to say is there’s no need to be embarrassed or modest.
What I will tell you is that she will touch you. It’s important to position the breast to get the best picture, and the only way to do that is to manipulate the breast between the two plates as they compress the breast. . If you’ve heard horror stories about how cold the machine is, that was in the olden days. It’s toasty warm now.
Does it hurt? I’m going to say no. But I will concede that it’s momentarily uncomfortable. Not painful, just a bit uncomfortable. It’s a very small price to pay to know that everything is okay. And the scan takes just a quick moment. It can’t take long, you have to hold your breath.
The machine takes many low-dose x-rays as it moves over the breast. A computer then puts the images together into a 3-dimensional picture. This type of diagnostic imaging allows the radiologist to see the breast tissue more clearly than the old-fashioned 2-D imaging used previously.
“Some studies have suggested it might lower the chance of being called back for follow-up testing. It may also be able to find more cancers,” ACS says.
So there you have it. Put the paper down and go to the phone or your computer right now. You won’t want to miss this memorable mammo party. It’s a Saturday Sip and Screen scan and you need to be there.
Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.