St. Lukes Hospital offers free breast exams October 21

Published 3:34 pm Monday, October 11, 2010

Here in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, our senses are awakened with the brilliant colors of fall burnt orange, crisp yellow, earthy brown, soft pink.

Pink? Yes, even pink heralds October, now widely known as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM). A movement designed to bring awareness to the prevention and detection of breast cancer, NBCAM has reached millions of individuals as hundreds of businesses, hospitals and physicians offices have joined the fight to unite us all in the cause. The Pink Ribbon symbolizes hope for the cure for a cancer that is now the leading cause of death in women between the ages of 40 and 55.

But women are not the only victims of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 1,990 men are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer and 480 are predicted to die.

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Consider this: every two minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. One in eight women will develop breast cancer, and more than 207,000 new cases of breast cancer are expected. Right here in the state of North Carolina, it is estimated there will be more than 6,000 new breast cancer cases this year; of those, more than 1,000 are expected to die.

These statistics are grim, but thanks to the Pink Ribbon awareness campaign, we are getting the word out: early detection is the best protection.

According to Teresa Marlowe, RTRM, manager of St. Lukes radiology services, this year marks 25 years that the Pink Ribbon campaign has educated women about the importance of early breast cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment. This year, a key message is the importance of annual mammogram screenings for women over age 40. These screenings are a womans best chance for detecting cancer early. And new treatment options, along with early detection, can significantly improve chances of survival. When breast cancer is found early, the five-year survival rate is 96 percent.

In addition to mammograms, women are encouraged to perform monthly breast self-exams. Studies have shown that 70 percent of all breast cancers are found through breast self-exams.

On Thursday, October 21, St. Lukes Hospital, along with Dr. Sandra McCormack and Dr. Celeste Wiltse, are sponsoring free breast exams, education, and when needed, a referral for a mammogram. Held during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this free community service is designed to provide early detection for the best protection. St. Lukes is particularly trying to reach women who dont see a physician regularly. Spaces are limited and appointments are necessary. Call 828-894-2408 to schedule an appointment.

St. Lukes Hospital uses digital mammography to detect cancer early. St. Lukes Radiology Department is using the latest technology available to help find breast cancer as early as possible.

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breasts used to screen for breast problems, such as a lump. Both film-based and digital mammography use compression and x-rays to create clear images of the inside of the breast. During all mammograms, the technologist positions the breast at different angles and compresses it with a paddle. Mammograms are very safe, using low doses of radiation to produce high-quality images. Although compressing breast tissue can be uncomfortable, St. Lukes Hospital provides a softer mammogram by using a foam mammo-pad with each mammogram.

Digital mammography was developed for many important reasons. The system transfers images to a computer so they can be electronically enhanced. Your doctor can zoom in, magnify and optimize different parts of the breast tissue using just four standard pictures.

To schedule your annual mammogram, call St. Lukes Radiology Department at 828-894-3525 ext. 3590.