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One out of nine women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. Although there is no prevention for this devastating disease, early detection has proven to be the best protection. Mammography is the best way of detecting breast cancer during its early, more treatable stages.

Woodlawn Hospital's Diagnostic Imaging department is a certified digital mammography facility and performs approximately 60 mammography, diagnostic and screening, procedures per month. Diagnostic Imaging has a state-of-the-art digital mammography machine that is inspected annually by an ISDH approved physicist and accredited by the American College of Radiology.

Mammography uses low-dose radiation to create an image of breast tissue and can detect small cancers up to two years before they can be felt by the patient or physician. Mammography Technologists go through specialized training to properly place the breast in specific positions to locate very small areas of suspected tumors or calcification in the breast.

To perform a mammogram, the breast is compressed to flatten the tissue. By reducing the thickness of the breast, less radiation is needed to produce the x-ray image and the compression allows for better visualization of each area of the breast. A patient should not be alarmed if, as a result of compression, there is some temporary skin discoloration involving one or both of the breasts. Occasionally, there will be a mild aching as a result of compression.

Finding a lump early significantly improves a woman's chance of successful treatment. All women are at risk for breast cancer, and as women get older, their risk of developing breast cancer increases.

The American Cancer Society recommends that women have a baseline mammogram between the ages of 35-40 and then begin annual mammograms at age 40.

Women who have had breast cancer or who have an increased risk due to a genetic history of breast cancer should check with their physician about whether they should begin screenings prior to age 40 and at what frequency screenings should be scheduled. It is also very important for women to do breast self-examination on a continuing basis.

Exams must be scheduled in advance through our Woodlawn Hospital Diagnostic Imaging Department -- call (574) 224-1151 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. A physician order is not required for a screening mammogram.

Provided by First Federal Savings Bank Friday Morning Radio Program.