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Avera Medical Minute: Keeping up to date on Mammograms

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 11:04 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some women are behind on preventative screenings like mammograms. Doctors say now is the time to get caught up.

Mammograms help screen for early breast cancer and can catch it before it spreads.

“Breast cancer used to be a cancer that had a really high mortality and now it’s something that most women are going to live with and not pass away from,” said Dr. Michelle Bryan, an Avera Breast Cancer Surgeon.

Dr. Bryan says it’s important for women age 40 and older to get a mammogram done annually.

“The strength of a mammogram is not even just that first one, but it’s having year after year to compare to, which really helps the radiologists,” said Dr. Bryan.

In February, Sonja Hegman went in for her second mammogram. She got a call back that they found something abnormal.

“It made me super nervous. I had cancer previously. I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014 and they caught it early enough that I only needed a hysterectomy and no other treatment, but just the thought of having cancer again was really stressful,” said Hegman.

Around 10 percent of women receive call backs. And less than 1 in ten actually have cancer according to the American Cancer Society.

“I do have dense breast tissue and I know a lot of women do have that and so sometimes they can’t see what they need to see on the first shot,” said Hegman.

After more testing, “They actually saw something and it ended up being a little cyst that’s like the size of a bb, but it was benign, so nothing to worry about,” said Hegman.

Hegman’s learned that it’s important to remain calm if you do receive a call back after a mammogram.

“I completely panicked and was a wreck for those 48 hours before I was able to come back in and was not easy on my fiancé either,” said Hegman.

Now that she’s gotten the all clear, she’s looking towards the future.

“My fiancé and I are getting married in October. So we are really busy getting the final touches done for our wedding. We are getting married in Deadwood and so we’ve been going out to Deadwood to get those plans ready to go and we’ve been going on hikes and all of that. So we are really excited. We just got a dog, which is very new for both of us,” said Hegman.

Annual mammograms will also continue.

“I mean, it’s the difference between life and death, like if you catch something early enough, then you can get treated and survive,” said Hegman.

For more information on mammogram screenings visit avera.org.

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