More than 300,000 women in the U.S. will face a breast cancer diagnosis this year. That's one in 8 women.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a chance to raise awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer, the most common cancer among women.
Breast cancer is most often caused by aging. The most common risk factors include a family history of breast cancer, lack of physical activity and excess weight or obesity after menopause.
But don't let common risk factors be your only guide. Michelle Henriksen, of rural Friendship, didn't have any of them when she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year.
"When I found the lump in my breast, I was two years behind on scheduling my mammogram," Henriksen said. "Gundersen Moundview was able to get me in quickly for a mammogram. I then met with Linda Charles, my nurse practitioner, who said my lump looked suspicious and scheduled me for a biopsy at the hospital."
With no family history of breast cancer, Henriksen was blindsided by the diagnosis. She relied on her strong network of family and friends who supported her through a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and four breast reconstructive surgeries. Today, she's cancer free.
"I encourage others going through cancer to lean on God first, then their family and friends and find other cancer survivors they can talk to," Henriksen said. "I also strongly encourage women to get regular mammograms and perform self-breast exams because early detection is vital."
Like Michelle, Gundersen encourages women to make early detection a priority by scheduling annual wellness visits and mammograms throughout the year.
"One of the best methods of early detection is a mammogram," said Linda Charles, nurse practitioner, Gundersen Moundview. "Regular mammograms are recommended for women 40 years of age and older. In addition to annual mammograms, there are proactive things you can do to help lower your risk for breast cancer, including regular exercise, adequate sleep, healthy eating and limited alcohol intake."
Gundersen Moundview brings the power of 3D mammography close to home with the mobile "Mammography Coach" twice a month. Standard 2D mammograms are also available.
"The benefit of 3D mammography is that breast tissue can be evaluated layer by layer, so details are no longer hidden by overlapping tissue," said Karen Schulz, radiologic technologist at Gundersen Moundview.
Most mammograms reveal no problems. However, if an abnormality or questionable finding is detected—which occurs in about one in 10 women—additional screening, such as a diagnostic mammogram, diagnostic ultrasound or ultrasound-guided biopsy is often the next step.
"Early detection is essential to fighting the disease as effectively as possible," Charles said.
Women are encouraged to talk with their provider to learn whether they could benefit from a 3D mammogram. To schedule a mammogram at Gundersen Moundview, call (608) 339-8373 or talk to your primary care provider.
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