Most of us know at least one person who’s been affected by breast cancer. In 2022, more than 280,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in women. And more than 43,000 women will die from it. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so we spoke to some of the staff at SDMI about what inspired them to specialize in mammography and what breast cancer awareness means to them.
Spreading Breast Cancer Awareness Through Accessible Screening
About 70% of women over the age of 40 have gotten recent breast cancer screenings. However, some groups of women experience disproportionate accessibility. In particular, women with disabilities are less likely to have gotten a mammogram in the last two years.
“I am an advocate and believer in screening for breast cancer,” says Sahar, of our Northwest location. “My mother was diagnosed with Stage 0 breast cancer. Luckily, it was caught early. I feel the need to spread the importance of getting mammograms, which I do by being a mammo tech.”
“I chose mammography because I am passionate about women's health and doing what I can to help find breast cancer and save lives,” says Montana, of our Southwest location.
The Highest Quality of Care
Studies tell us that a good majority of women feel anxious about getting a mammogram, and we understand why. Technology from 20+ years ago didn’t make it the most comfortable experience. SDMI combats this by using only the most current and cutting-edge imaging machinery to provide a quick, calm, and easy experience.
We also take great pride in the professionals we hire, and consider ourselves more of a family. Our team members often express the bonds they form with patients over their years with SDMI. Shannon, of one of our Henderson facilities, says, “I chose mammography because I truly love helping people, especially other women. My grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer while I was in college, and this fueled my passion for mammography even more. I entered the field many years ago knowing I wanted a secure, good-paying job in the medical field. I have been a mammographer for 26 years, and it has been a very fulfilling career.”
For the staff at SDMI, this is so much more than a job. It’s an opportunity to make an impact every day in the lives of women.
Shaping the Future of Breast Cancer Awareness
Our hopes for the future are for science to find a way to detect breast cancer before it can even strike. More specifically targeted therapies and blood testing are possibly on the horizon. But one thing will never change: Our commitment and dedication to providing the best patient care possible. “I have a strong family history of breast cancer and I wanted to do my part in helping to fight this horrible disease,” says Cambria, from our Northwest facility. “I've been a mammographer for almost 30 years and still going strong! I love being the first line of defense for finding breast cancer in its earliest stages.”
By alleviating women’s nerves and helping them feel more comfortable during their mammogram, we can spread the word far and wide that mammograms really aren’t all that bad — and they could literally be life-saving. Says Robyn (our Chief Mammography Technologist) of our Southwest location, “[Patients] walk in scared but afterward, they say, ‘Is that it? Totally relieved and surprised that the experience was the opposite of what they expected. This makes me smile. Then, I ask them to go spread the word, that having a mammogram was not that bad and that having one could possibly save their life.”
Katie from our Southwest facility echoes a similar sentiment, saying, “I always knew I wanted to do something meaningful with my career. It’s why I chose the medical field in the first place! Going into mammo was always in the back of my head, and after seeing what it was all about, I just felt that was what I was meant to do, help these women get through a tough, emotional exam! And if I can...maybe make it fun and get these ladies to WANT to come back and continue to get their annual mammograms!”
Breast Cancer Prevention and Monitoring with SDMI
SDMI offers a number of imaging services to support breast health. 3D mammography can be used for both screening and diagnostic purposes. Breast ultrasounds are usually ordered as a follow-up to characterize a mass seen on mammography. They’re also used in younger patients with symptoms to rule out a cyst. Specifically, ultrasound is designed to detect masses — calcifications are not seen.
Ultrasounds use sound waves to produce images of the breast. A breast MRI can detect breast cancer, abnormalities in the breast tissue, and breast implant integrity. It’s used in very specific instances, especially to determine the extent of disease or to look further into suspicious nipple discharge. Micro-calcifications are not seen on MRI, and it has a higher rate of false positives, which is why mammography is still the gold standard for breast cancer screening.
And stereotactic breast biopsies are another type of procedure performed when an abnormality is found in the breast. Both healthcare professionals and patients prefer this type of biopsy, as it’s faster and more accurate. These biopsies check for micro-calcifications. Ultrasound breast biopsies, on the other hand, are used for solid masses. SDMI now offers 3D stereo breast biopsies, which allow us to localize masses seen on mammography and not seen via ultrasound.