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Thank you for subscribing to Women's Health, an Avera eNewsletter that provides you with information to help you live a healthy lifestyle.  To learn more about what Avera can do to partner with you to improve your health, visit www.Avera.org.

To your health,

The Avera Staff


Many Avera facilities offer digital mammography, which is the latest technology, for your annual screenings. This means you receive the safest, most accurate diagnoses available. During Breast Cancer Awareness month, take a moment to schedule a mammogram that can give peace of mind to you and your loved ones.

While self-examinations are important for cancer detection, mammograms are key in detecting breast cancer since they can catch a lump in the breast that a woman may not find on her own.

Digital mammography offers clearer imaging with less radiation. Digital mammograms use X-rays to examine breast tissue but uses less radiation than standard mammography. Unlike film mammography, which is what has been used for the past 40 years, digital mammogram takes an electronic image of the breast. This image, which is stored on a computer, is clearer than film images, which can become distorted. Digital mammography is especially useful for women who have dense breasts where cancerous lumps are more difficult to detect.

It is recommended for women over 40 years of age to have a mammogram every year or two. Call 1 (877) AT-AVERA (1 [877] 282-8372) to make an appointment.

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Just five minutes a month could save your life. That's how long it takes to perform a self-breast examination, which can help detect breast cancers earlier.

Some health care professionals recommend that women over 20 years of age perform self-breast examinations each month to check for lumps. The earlier breast cancer is caught, the easier it is to treat. Self-examinations are simple, and they can help find breast abnormalities before it's time for your annual exam or mammogram. Self-examinations should be done in addition to annual exams.

Your doctor can advise you on the best way to check for lumps. If you do notice any differences in your breasts during your self-examination, talk to your doctor. Click here for more information about how to perform a self-examination.

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After a mammogram, a doctor may sometimes recommend a breast MRI for further examination. If your doctor orders a breast MRI, don't be alarmed. The imaging merely helps doctors better see abnormalities or unclear portions of a mammogram.  

Unlike a mammogram, which uses X-rays to produce images of the breast, an MRI uses magnets and radio waves to form an image. A doctor may order an MRI to see an unclear image from a mammogram or ultrasound. An MRI also can be used to evaluate a lump after a biopsy or to see if cancer has returned in a breast cancer patient. A breast MRI, which is a painless procedure, also can be used for women who have dense breast tissue or who have a strong family history of breast cancer.

Doctors sometimes use MRIs in these cases because the technology is more sensitive than a mammogram. If an MRI shows a positive result, your doctor may follow up with a biopsy. Be sure to ask your doctor if you have questions about the procedure.

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In Great Health online archive.