FEATURE – Many people don’t know that Washington County has the lowest percentage of women who receive annual mammograms in Utah. And sadly, 80-100 local women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the coming year. Mammograms can detect cancer even before a lump is noticeable, providing early treatment options that save lives.
A mammogram will pick up new or abnormal calcium deposits up to two years before a lump can be felt in 90 percent of breast cancer cases. The other 10 percent of cases may first be noticed as a lump or diffuse pink rash, so monthly breast self-examination is still recommended. Ultrasounds and MRIs are also useful, but the mammogram is considered the gold standard of diagnosing breast cancer. And despite what you may have heard, radiation from mammograms is not harmful.
Early detection of breast cancer gives most women a choice; they may opt for a lumpectomy with a short course of radiation rather than mastectomy. In addition, chemotherapy may not be necessary with early detection.
Every woman should have a yearly preventive health examination that covers evaluation of the four leading causes of death in non-smoking U.S. women: Cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, colon cancer and osteoporosis. Don’t wait; talk to your doctor and schedule a mammogram today. If you don’t have a primary care provider, contact the Southern Utah Women’s Health Center at 435-628-1662.
Will a mammogram save your life this year?
Written by Dr. Joan Eggert for St. George Health & Wellness magazine and St. George News.
Eggert completed her undergraduate education in nutrition at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo. She earned a master’s degree in public health at UCLA and taught nutrition and medical dietetics for seven years before returning to medical school at the University of Utah, and residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Nebraska. She is certified by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and certified in hyperbaric and dive medicine. Her practice includes general gynecology, minor gynecology surgery, urogynecology and menopausal problems and management.
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