October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Why put off your annual screening? NCH offers three convenient locations. To schedule your mammogram, call 847.618.3700. A physician's order is not required.
They say ignorance is bliss. But when it comes to breast cancer, what you don't know can hurt you. Read on to learn the facts.
Myth: I don't have a family history of breast cancer, so I don't need a mammogram.
Truth: A whopping 85 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history. "Family history doesn't get you off the hook," says Allyson Jacobson, MD, who specializes in breast surgery at Northwest Community Hospital. "Starting at 40, every woman should be checked annually."
Myth: Mammograms can lead to too many unnecessary follow-up tests. I'll be less anxious if I skip the screening.
Truth: If you wait until you can feel breast cancer, it's often harder to treat. "Mammography is the gold standard for catching cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages," says Christine Masonick, RN, BS, OCN, manager of the NCH Breast Center.
NCH also offers Results by Request®, which provides women with a choice of how they'd like to receive their results. At NCH, you can schedule a one-hour appointment and receive your results immediately, or a half-hour appointment and receive your results by mail within five to seven days. Both options offer maximum flexibility to lessen anxiety and fit busy schedules. "If you need additional imaging, we can often do it the very same day," Masonick says.
Myth: Mammography hurts too much.
Truth: Some women avoid mammography because of pain. But at NCH you have options.
To increase physical comfort, NCH offers Extra Gentle Mammograms, a tailored approach that may include analgesics, flexible panels and MammoPads®, which provide soft cushions during the screening.
Myth: During a mammogram, women are exposed to dangerous levels of radiation.
Truth: While mammography comes with some radiation exposure, it's quite low. To put things in perspective, people are exposed to more radiation when they fly in an airplane than during a mammogram. "People don't think twice about hopping on a flight," Dr. Jacobson says.
Myth: NCH may have advanced diagnostic tools, but if I have breast cancer, it's time to go downtown for treatment.
Truth: The same expert care that many women would travel for is available close to home, right here at NCH.
"This is one myth I would really like to break apart," Dr. Jacobson says, adding that NCH offers expert treatment for breast cancer, including nipple-sparing mastectomy, MammoSite® targeted radiation and other therapies such as hormone therapy, immune therapy and chemotherapy. NCH patients also have access to clinical trials.
"All of this happens in a more comfortable environment, with a nurse navigator at your side walking you through the entire process," Dr. Jacobson says.