Grundy County Memorial Hospital is taking the opportunity during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month to encourage women to schedule their annual mammogram and perform routine self-exams.
One of the earliest signs of breast cancer can be an abnormality that shows up on a mammogram before it can be felt. The most common signs of breast cancer are a lump in the breast, abnormal thickening of the breast, or a change in the shape or color of the breast. Finding a lump or change in your breast does not necessarily mean you have breast cancer. Additional changes that may also be signs of breast cancer include:
Any new, hard lump or thickening in any part of the breast, change in breast size or shape, dimpling or puckering of the skin, swelling, redness or warmth that does not go away, pain in one spot that does not vary with your monthly cycle, pulling in of the nipple, nipple discharge that starts suddenly and appears only in one breast, an itchy, sore, or scaling area on one nipple.
Mammography screening remains the best available method to detect breast cancer early. The American Cancer Society recommends women between the ages of 35 and 40 receive their first mammogram with yearly mammograms after age 40. Grundy County Memorial Hospital has three Mammography Technologists on staff to serve the patients needs and has the latest advanced digital technology that provides superior image quality. During the month of October, women scheduling a mammogram will receive a free gift from the hospital.
In the United States, the death rate from breast cancer had remained unchanged for 50 years prior to 1990. Mammographic screening began in the mid-1980s, as indicated by a sudden jump in the number of cancers discovered. As would be expected from periodic screening, the death rate from breast cancer began to decrease in 1990. As more and more women began to participate in screening, the death rate continued to decrease so that there are now 30% fewer women dying from breast cancer each year than would have been expected had the death rate continued at pre-1990 levels. This shows that mammography screening exams are working to catch the disease earlier so it can be treated. That being said, breast cancer continues to be the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women in Iowa. Yearly screening mammograms starting at age 40 can help save lives.
The Iowa Care for Yourself Program is available at GCMH. This program helps low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women gain access to breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services. For more information on this program, call: (800) 369-2229. For more information about breast cancer and mammography or any of GCMH services please call 319-824-5081 or visit www.grundycountyhospital.org.