Peace of Mind

Bonner General Health offers tips for self-examination and breast cancer screenings

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff Writer

Pink ribbons mark the month of October with an annual reminder that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Members of the Bonner General Health Mammography Team from left to right: Cheryl Weisz, Katie Cary, Brittany Winget, Shea Jones, Laura Donnelly, Becky Rasmussen, Amie Wolf, and Kathy Conger. They are standing in front of the 3D Mammogram machine – the most advanced technology available in breast cancer screening. Photo courtesy Bonner General Health.

While October is a month of awareness, Bonner General Health mammography team member Cheryl Weisz said being aware of changes in your breasts should be a monthly activity.

Weisz said once a month women should look for abnormalities, including:

  • A lump, hard knot, or thickening in the breast or under arm
  • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
  • A change in the size or shape of their breast
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin
  • An itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
  • Pulling in of the nipple or other areas of the breast
  • Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
  • New pain in one spot that does not go away.

Sandpoint Women’s Health nurse practitioner Laci Burk said women should get yearly mammograms no later than age 45 and should continue to do so until their physician determines their risk factors. This will determine how often they should receive screenings for the remainder of their lives.

Weisz said women coming to Bonner General Health for a 3D mammogram should be confident because it is the most advanced technology available in breast cancer screening.

“Our technology detects 40 percent more invasive cancers than 2D mammography, allowing for the earliest detection, which is critical in the fight against cancer, and all of our mammography technologists are registered with the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists,” she said.

Weisz said anyone nervous about mammograms should let their technologist know, and they should also remember that a screening takes no more than 10 to 20 minutes.

“Always let your technologist know if you are experiencing pain or discomfort so they can make you more comfortable,” she said.

This October, women should remember that self-examination is often the first step to early detection, and Bonner General is well-equipped to assist anyone with concerns.

“It is more important to see your healthcare provider for evaluation than think to yourself, ‘I don’t have the typical risk factors,’ because more and more newly diagnosed breast cancer patients have no risk factors,” Burk said.

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