October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Phelps County Regional Medical Center (PCRMC) is encouraging women age 40 and older to get their annual breast cancer screenings.
Every Friday in October, the PCRMC Comprehensive Breast Center is offering free 3-D mammograms to women who are at least age 40 and financially qualify. The Phelps Regional Health Care Foundation’s Breast Center Mammography Fund is covering the cost of 50 3-D mammograms.
The Comprehensive Breast Center has been offering 3-D mammograms since June 2016.
The 3-D mammogram takes about 26 projections of the breast, and PCRMC radiologists can view 1-millimeter slices to get a clearer view of dense breast tissue and detect any abnormalities.
Tiffany Henry, Comprehensive Breast Center coordinator, said there is a 30-40 percent higher detection rate with 3-D mammograms than 2-D mammograms. Mammograms take about 15-20 minutes.
Missouri ranks 42nd in the nation for women getting screening mammograms, Henry noted.
Breast cancer occurs when there is a fast growth of cells in the breasts that turn abnormal and usually cause a lump. Not all cases of breast cancer are alike, and there are different ways to treat breast cancer.
Some of the symptoms of breast cancer may include breast lumps, redness or swelling of the breasts, nipple retraction or nipple discharge, dimpling, changes in the skin of the breast and sometimes pain.
Non-invasive breast cancer occurs if the cell growth stays within the breast lobule or duct, said Carol Walter, nurse navigator with the Delbert Day Cancer Institute (DDCI). Once the growth goes outside that area, it becomes invasive.
The stages of breast cancer depend on the tumor’s size, how many lymph nodes are affected and whether it has spread to other areas, such as the lungs, liver or bones.
“Don’t be afraid,” Walter advised women who may have concerns about getting mammograms. “So many women put it off because they are afraid of what they might find or that it will hurt.”
Henry recommends that women be self-aware about their breasts and what they normally look and feel like so that if an abnormality occurs, they are more likely to notice it and can let their provider know.
Walter said the older women get, the more likely they may get breast cancer.
To learn more about mammograms, breast self-exams and general breast health, call PCRMC’s Comprehensive Breast Center at 573-458-3100.