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News  ›  Cancer Care

Annual Exams and Preventive Screenings Save Lives

January 18, 2022

Beth, a suburban mother of three in her fifties, is thankful that she did not let concerns about COVID-19 stop her from getting an annual exam. That exam ultimately led to a stage 1a breast cancer diagnosis, a lumpectomy to remove a tumor and lymph nodes, and radiation treatment.

Because of her family history of breast cancer, Beth was referred to Hillary Knowles, APN, a specialist in the NCH High Risk Breast Clinic who ordered an MRI last August. After the MRI detected a mass in her right breast, an ultrasound and biopsy confirmed a cancer diagnosis. Three weeks later she had her surgery.

“I am so thankful I got that MRI,” Beth said. “I couldn’t feel the lump myself, and neither could the surgeon.”

Beth met with the breast cancer support team — surgeon, radiologist and social worker — and was also genetically tested. The test came back negative for 47 different genes, showing no genetic markers.

“Knowing what I know now about my family history, the genetic results did not surprise me,” Beth said. “My relatives who had breast cancer were all over the board — different ages, types, etc. — but genetic testing was important for the surgeon and team to know what other factors they might need to take into account to treat me.”

Currently in remission, Beth has returned to full-time work and normal activities with no limitations.

She is on hormone therapy and her long-term care plan includes follow up with her surgeon, oncologist and radiation oncologist as well as mammogram and MRI rotation every six months.

“I have high praise for the entire NCH breast clinic team, they know what they are doing. Their goal is to identify who might be at high risk and to make certain that they get the kind of screenings they need,” Beth said. “If it wasn’t for the screening, I wouldn’t know that I had cancer. Mammograms and MRI’s are not comfortable, however they can save your life!”

Talk to your doctor about resuming care and next steps for cancer screening. Cancer in the early stages may not have symptoms, so getting regular screenings to find cancer early means it may be easier to treat.

Click here for more information about cancer screening at NCH.

To schedule a mammogram, please call 847-618-3700.

NCH is designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology (ACR) and is an accredited NAPBC Breast Center Program. We provide 3D digital mammography at five locations in four suburbs (Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Kildeer and Schaumburg) and have a High Risk Breast Clinic to help patients manage their risk of breast cancer. All have short wait times and same-day results and Saturday appointments available. NCH was voted “Best Mammogram Imaging Center” by the Women’s Choice Award.

Hillary Knowles, APN, a specialist in the NCH High Risk Breast Clinic

Screening is essential to detect precancerous lesions and cancers in their earliest stages, before symptoms appear and when they may be easier to treat. Because of the delays in cancer screening during the pandemic, it’s expected that some cancers will be found at a later stage and death rates will increase.