(INTERMOUNTAIN HEALTHCARE) — In the United States there is a 1 in 8 chance a woman will be diagnosed with breast cancer which is the second leading cause of cancer related death among women. However, Utah’s rate of women who undergo an annual mammogram screening is one of the lowest in the nation.
“Annual screenings have proven to be the most effective way of catching breast cancer early,” said Brett Parkinson, MD, medical director of the Intermountain Breast Care Center. “And the earlier the cancer is detected the better the odds treatment will be effective.” According a study by the American Cancer Society, deaths from breast cancer in the United States dropped by 40 percent between 1989-2017. That equates to 375,000 deaths avoided over the 28-year period.
“During my career it’s been incredible to watch our efforts behind mammograms and early detection show real results in saving people’s lives,” said Dr. Parkinson. “Even with all of our technology advancements the biggest step is – getting women in for their screenings. If a woman puts off her mammogram or she skips it completely, then she finds it the next year it may have grown. It may have doubled in size or tripled in size. So it’s really important, women get their mammograms now and not neglect that.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic Intermountain caregivers are taking several steps to ensure patients are safe when they come in for their screenings. All patients are required to wear a mask and seating in waiting rooms ensures there’s proper social distancing. Appointments have been scheduled with more time between patients, so caregivers can do a top to bottom disinfecting of every room after it’s used.
“Even though we took a break during the pandemic, breast cancer doesn’t.” said Dr. Parkinson. “We can’t have women waiting a year for their next screening because if there is cancer it can get out of control in that time.”
To help make sure screening is convenient for women there are several Intermountain facilities that have extended hours to fit the need. Intermountain Medical Center’s Breast Care Center in Murray is doing Saturday screenings for patients who don’t have time during the week.
Intermountain also has the use of two mobile mammogram units which can be deployed around the state to make screenings more convenient, especially in underserved areas.
To schedule a mammogram, call 801-507-7840, or visit the Intermountain Healthcare website.
Sheri Dew Sheri Dew is an author, publisher, executive vice president of Deseret Management Corporation, and CEO of Deseret Book. She also served in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Relief Society general presidency from 1997 – 2002.
Dew is a 14-year survivor of breast cancer and an example of how early detection can save a woman’s life. Dew had come in for a regular mammogram when Dr. Brett Parkinson noticed three small spots on her scan that were almost invisible. It turned out to be malignant cancer cells.
Dew said, “I got the dreaded call that says you’ve got cancer. There was actually a really big circle and I thought that looks bad. He said, ‘Oh that’s nothing. That’s why they sent it over. That’s a false positive. But I am a little worried about these three little dots.”
Due to the early detection Dew didn’t have to undergo radiation or chemotherapy treatment and had cancer removed with surgery. All of her follow up mammograms since her diagnosis has been negative.
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