FISHERSVILLE — October is two months away, but a woman’s risk of breast cancer could be right now.
Augusta Health encourages women to get screened for breast cancer before Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“What we’re looking at is breast cancer affects roughly 12. 5 percent of the population,” said Augusta Health Lead Interpreting Mammographer Dr. Todd Goodnight, who lives in Crozet.
Statistics show that one in eight American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. When men and women think about how many women they know: sisters, girlfriends, coworkers, mothers, aunts, cousins, they know eight women very easily.
“It’s all a statistics game. Someone you know is going to get breast cancer,” said Goodnight, who has been with Augusta Health for two years.
Doctors cannot change who gets breast cancer, but they can change how the disease is treated when detected early.
Goodnight said recommendations are for women to begin annual mammogram screening every year after age 40, and to always talk about family history of cancers with their doctor.
Women who should get screened before age 40 are any woman considered high risk because her mother had breast cancer before age 45.
Goodnight said that when he talks to women about breast cancer he focuses on the average risk, the majority of women, so as to reach as many women as possible, but all women should have conversations with their doctor about their individual breast cancer risk.
Women should tell their doctor about all cancers that are in their family history, not just breast cancer.
Discussing all cancers is important, according to Goodnight, because they can be a red flag for genes that will cause another cancer, such as breast cancer.
A still fairly new weapon in the fight against breast cancer is 3D mammograms, which some health insurances do not cover.
Goodnight said a 3D mammogram uses a computer to take pictures in an arc of the breast, and put an algorithm on the computer.
“It lets us see into the breast,” Goodnight said.
Goodnight said 3D mammography is like slicing into an apple, and allowing doctors to see 1 millimeter slices at a time of the breast. The new technology is especially helpful in detecting cancer in dense breast tissue, which not only creates more cancer, but hides cancer.
Sixty percent of women get 2D mammograms, the traditional mammogram screening, at Augusta Health, and, Goodnight said, 40 percent get 3D mammograms.
He said that eventually 3D mammography will become the normal screening method. While 3D means increased radiation risk, Augusta Health is infesting in machines that decrease that risk.
“If they want to avoid the October Breast Cancer Awareness rush, they should call tomorrow,” Goodnight said.
Women can schedule a mammogram at either Augusta Health in Fishersville or at the hospital’s Urgent Care Center in Stuarts Draft by calling 833-AHC-HLTH.
“I just think that it’s really important that women get screened, because we can’t help them unless they come in,” Goodnight said.
And the earlier breast cancer is detected, the sooner it can be treated.