Radiologists urge patients to get annual mammograms

Greenville, N.C. (WITN) - October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Radiologists at Carolina Breast Imaging are urging women to get their annual mammograms.

Areas in Greenville have been painted pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness, and health professionals say it should be a reminder to get checked.

"Every year from the age of 40, women should have a mammogram as long as they're in good health," said Dr. Bruce Schroeder with Carolina Breast Imagining.

Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of death for women, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and the more often patients are seen, the higher the rate of survival.

Schroeder said, "The more frequently we screen, the more likely we are to catch something before it has become dangerous."

Though age 40 is recommended, radiologists say it depends on many factors. For example, if you have a family history of breast cancer or any cancer, the risk may be higher. There may be a need to start checking earlier; which was the case for breast cancer survivor Mattie Randolph.

"I didn't feel anything, but he told me, {the doctor] said the spot they detected was so small, by just examining my breast, I did not feel it," said Randolph.

This is why Dr. Schroeder says self-checks may not always be the best way to detect breast cancer. However, becoming familiar with your tissue has its advantages because you can contact a doctor if you notice anything abnormal.

Once an abnormality is found and a breast biopsy is done, the pathologist determines whether or not the tissue is malignant. Most patients don't get to see a pathologist. William Ballance, president, and CEO of Greenville Pathology, explains why their job is so important.

"We then perform some tests on the biopsy—a hormonal test of estrogen and progesterone," said Ballance, "as well as HER2, which is a test that, if positive, the patient can be put on a drug that blocks the effect of HER2."

Wanda Rued is a breast cancer survivor as well. She said she skipped a few years of her annual checks, but once she started back, it saved her life.

"I will never ever neglect having it done. I'll never miss another one," said Rued.

Rued encourages everyone to get their mammograms.

Rued said, "Everyone should have their mammogram, or they should never, ever, ever miss one. It's very important that you get that every single year."

This Friday, the office is offering a 3D "Mammoglam" special for $190.00 for uninsured patients.

Komen.org says that though men account for less than one percent of all breast cancer cases in the U.S., men with a family history of breast cancer should have a clinical breast exam every year.

The CDC also notes that African American women are more likely to die of breast cancer.