What You Should Know About Breast Cancer Detection
This story is part of a series in which Avera nurses and other care team members share their perspectives on cancer and cancer detection, as well as the ways they keep patients at the center of everything they do.
Rhonda Engebretson, BS, RT(R) (M) (CT), CN-BI, is a quality manager with Avera Breast Center, where she has worked since 2010. She has worked in radiology health care for many years, including with Avera in Platte.
The best detection is early detection. Our role in the cancer team differs from many of the nurses and caregivers. When we see patients for mammograms, we remind them all that once a year is best. Skipping a year can be risky, because early detection makes a big difference – we don’t want to give any tumor or possible problem a 12-24 month head start before it’s detected. So please, make and keep your annual mammogram appointments.
We realize some guidelines have changed and that can be confusing. The simplicity of doing it once a year is just that: simple. And it’s the best way you can avoid a “coulda/woulda/shoulda” situation with your health. Avera Medical Group recommends annual screening mammography beginning at age 40 and continuing as recommended by your provider.
We realize a call-back for additional imaging can be nerve-wracking. But we also want to reassure anyone who does get this call-back request that it’s not always a bad thing. The radiologist may want a clearer look with another image, but there is a generalized tendency to fear that call to return after a mammogram. That’s natural. Again, it comes back to the importance of that annual exam. We all know people affected by breast cancer – but remember it’s the earlier-detection cases that have the best outcomes.
We are here to listen, help and explain all breast-imaging tests. Yes, there will be compression during your mammogram exam, but it should be quick and should not hurt. We realize you may be nervous, or anxious, and we’re here to help relieve those feelings. We also want you to tell us if there’s a symptom you have noticed, like pain, a lump or general breast change. If we know that before your mammogram, we can make sure to document it and tell the radiologist about it as he or she looks at your images.
You’re in good hands. Our focus is you and our skills are very specialized. We’ll be using the best technology to get the best possible images for you and for your care. Everyone who works here is thoroughly trained and certified in this area of medical imaging. We’re all here as dedicated members of your cancer prevention and detection team. You’ll get that same leading-edge quality no matter where you are in the Avera system. When you get your mammogram, it’s a uniform, high-quality system. Be confident the mammogram you have with us is the highest possible quality, and the compassion, support and care you get from our team also will be the best possible.