In October, also the official breast cancer awareness month, many awareness events are held. Gadsden Regional Medical Center’s Women’s Imaging Center, for the third year, is doing something a little different. Instead of just raising awareness, they are hosting a Mammogram Marathon.
The Mammogram Marathon will take place on Oct. 16 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Women’s Imaging Center will serve refreshments and give door prizes, while they see patients every 15 minutes. All through October, all patients will receive a free gift with their mammogram, but on the 16th it will be a bigger gift than normal.
The mammogram process at the Women’s Imaging Center is simple.
After waiting in the breast cancer awareness decorated waiting room, a nurse or technician will lead you to a changing area where you change into a rather cute pink gown.
After you change they bring you to a room with the digital mammography machine. There, you place your breasts on a soft pad that covers the top of the machine. The pad, which is the softest available and always used at Women’s Imaging Center, makes the machine more comfortable and provides more accurate mammograms because it keeps your breasts from sliding. The top of the machine will come down and place about 20 pounds of weight on your breasts. The weight flattens out the breasts while the machine takes an x-ray image.
After the image is taken, you are allowed to go change back into your clothes, and apply deodorant, which, along with talcum powder, should not be worn before the mammogram, as small metal particulates in the products can interfere with the image.
If there are any abnormalities in your mammogram images, doctors are available on the Gadsden Regional Medical Center campus to do further testing and treat you.
“Gadsden Regional is the only place in the area where everything can be done here, without sending the patient somewhere else,” said Natalie Fleming, Marketing Director.
Women’s Imaging Center caters mainly to women. As a result, the technicians perform multiple mammograms daily and have more experience.
Mammograms are important for women to receive yearly when they are 40 or older. Mammograms can allow for early detection of breast cancer, which significantly increases the chance of successful treatment.
Breast cancer is still the second leading cause of death in U.S women. “This isn’t preventive health care, but it is proactive,” said Fleming.
Women under 40 are encouraged to have breast exams performed by a nurse or doctor about every three years. Breast self-exams can also help find lumps or abnormalities in a breast.
To perform a self-exam, first look for any changes in your breasts with a mirror. Start with your hands at your sides, and then raise them above your head.
Next, feel for any changes while lying down. Doctors recommend using your left hand for your right breast, and your right hand for your left breast. With the three middle fingers, apply light, medium and firm pressure to check all the layers of breast tissue.
Last, while standing check the underarm area for lumps, or other irregularities.
While doctors are still unsure what exactly causes breast cancer, there are factors that are known to increase the risk of getting the disease. These include family history of breast or ovarian cancer, older age, breast density, not having children or older than 30 at time of first full-term pregnancy, postmenopausal obesity and alcohol consumption. Exercise and breast-feeding can decrease the risk of breast cancer.
While breast cancer in men is rare , it does happen, especially if they have a genetic condition that gives them high estrogen levels. Because males have smaller breasts, the chance of it moving to the chest wall is increased.