OSF HealthCare is setting a goal for all women age 40 years and older or who are at high-risk for breast cancer to get a regular mammogram.
One in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually, according to OSF, and mammography is the most important tool for detecting breast cancer early. Health officials report the exam provides for easier treatment and better chances of a cure.
Still, convincing women of the vital importance of an annual mammogram remains a challenge. That's why, for the second year in a row, OSF HealthCare is lighting the way with its "Light the Fight" campaign. Through the month of October, OSF medical centers and facilities will be bathed in pink to remind women to get an annual breast cancer screening — especially if they're 40 or older.
In fact, risk factors increase with age. Another consideration is family history.
"So, it is important to get screened with mammograms," said Samantha Miller, lead technologist of mammography for the Center for Health - Streator, in a news release. "Even having no risk factors at all, 80% of people diagnosed with breast cancer have no history. So, even those women — it's important."
OSF HealthCare has set a goal to perform more than 900 mammograms by the end of October, which is recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Last year marked the first time OSF HealthCare challenged residents across La Salle County to help meet a goal of early detection.
Objections to getting a mammogram vary, but topping the list is the discomfort, according to OSF. However, advancements in equipment and techniques — like newly designed paddles and 3-D mammography — have reduced the need for patients to hesitate about the procedure.
"Each year our equipment is newer, we get better training," said Allison Gleason, supervisor of mammography at OSF St. Anthony Medical Center, in a news release. "We've got new paddles now here at OSF that are called SmartCurve. And they, actually, are curved to the shape of a woman's breast versus being flat. That helps alleviate a lot of the pain in having a mammogram."
New in 2019, 3-D mammography is now available in Streator. It joins Mendota and Ottawa in offering the gold standard for breast screening.
Also new are breast magnetic resonance imaging services in Streator. The MRI procedure is designed to help with diagnostic mammograms following initial screening or breast surgeries, if needed.
OSF health officials also advise women of any age consider genetic testing.
"We ask you a series of quick questions — it takes about five minutes in the room with your technologist," Gleason said in a news release. "And we just ask some of your family history background. If anyone has had any type of cancer and at what age. And some of your other, kind of, personal history. And then that at the end of the survey will let us know if you are at high risk or not. And then we will refer you then to the cancer center for further testing."
Now through the end of October, every woman who completes a mammogram at OSF HealthCare will receive a free pink tote bag, while supplies last. Appointments are available in Mendota, Ottawa and Streator. Weekend hours are also available at select locations.
Learn more, or find the nearest location, by visiting osfhealthcare.org/mammo.
• THIS ARTICLE includes information from an OSF HealthCare news release and portions of an article from the OSF HealthCare Newsroom at newsroom.osfhealthcare.org.