Health Check: Digital Mammography

One out of every eight women will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer in their lifetime. It's an alarming statistic, but early detection can make all the difference. In this month's Health Check report, Serese Cole takes us to the Fremont Area Medical Center - where Digital Mammography is benefiting doctors and patients.

"No one in our family has had a history of breast cancer... so it's kind of a shock to all of us".

That shock came Emily Ridder's freshmen year in college- when her mother, Lorna, was diagnosed.

Emily Ridder, They found it on a mammogram and the doctor said it would have taken 10 years to feel the tumor."

Doctors credit that mammogram for saving her mom's life. That's why Dr. Mark Johannsen says early detection is so important.

"Early detection means three things: self exams, seeing your physician on a yearly basis and screening mammography," said Johannsen.

Serese Cole" Four years ago, patients would have to wait for film to be processed when they got a mammogram, now with digital mammography, the images are done in seconds, and they're better than ever."

Digital mammography also means if there's an area of concern doctors can manipulate, magnify even contrast the image - to get a better look.

"You can see calcifications that are smaller you can see densities that are more subtle and it's really the new technology and the standard of care for mammography," said Dr. Johannsen.

Dr. Johannsen also use something called Computer Aided Detection or C-A-D. The software program, acts as a second set of eyes - marking abnormalities the computer sees as a potential problem.

Emily says, "I decided to be proactive and do everything I can to prevent it."

Now Emily gets a mammogram every year...and her mom...

"My mom is doing great ," she said.

A survivor for more than 15 years thanks to a mammogram.

There's even an effort to make mammograms more comfortable. The Fremont Area Medical Center offers Bella Blankets to women for free. They're used to cover the cold mammography plate and offer protection for patients with irritated skin.

Most women should begin getting an annual mammogram at the age of 40. If you are in a high risk category, like someone with family history, you should talk with your doctor about getting a mammogram earlier.

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