Breast Cancer Awareness Month

– Mammograms Save Lives. Get One!

A woman’s risk for breast cancer increases with age. That’s why experts recommend a mammogram every one to two years for women age 40 and up.

Mammograms save lives by helping doctors find cancer in its earliest stages, many times before a lump can be felt. Early detection is key because the sooner treatment begins, the better the chances for survival.

If you’re a woman with dense breasts, you may want to consider 3D breast ultrasound in addition to regular mammograms.  Women with dense breast tissue have five times the risk of breast cancer.  Three-dimensional ultrasound is an excellent tool for imaging patients with dense breast tissue. It has the unique ability to outline structures within the dense tissue. Mammograms are still the gold standard and 3D ultrasound should be used in conjunction with mammography.

Screening Paid Off

Carole Murray of Livermore knows first hand the value of regular screening mammograms.  After having one nearly every year since the age of 40, Murray, now 72, learned this past spring that her screening mammogram showed a suspicious mass.

Cancer Patient Nurse Navigator

An ultrasound and biopsy did indeed show it was cancer. Being in good health most of her life, Murray was kind of in shock.  “Thank goodness for Sherry LaSalle who just came along side me and was wonderful,” says Murray.  LaSalle is a registered nurse and certified cancer patient nurse navigator for ValleyCare. She helps cancer patients “navigate” the sometimes stressful and confusing path of cancer diagnoses and treatment.

Breast Brachytherapy

Because it was caught early, the tumor was very small, and it was surgically removed. Afterwards, Murray underwent breast brachytherapy. Breast brachytherapy is radiation treatment where a tiny catheter is placed in the breast through which radiation seeds are inserted.  This form of radiation allows fine tuning of the delivery of the radiation to the area so that healthy tissue is spared. Because the radiation is targeted, the timeframe for treatment is also reduced from a traditional six weeks to only five days.  Murray says, “it went well and the doctors, technicians and everyone at the ValleyCare Cancer Center really did a great job in taking care of me, from explaining the procedure to their compassion.”

Clean Bill of Health

Murray says she has been given a clean bill of health and is amazed at how efficient, professional and caring everyone was.  “I am impressed with how fast and smooth it all went. Everyone did an amazing job and with such a caring attitude,” she says.

Now Murray shares her experience and encourages her friends and daughters to get their screening mammograms.  “Some of my friends tell me they don’t get mammograms anymore, that they’re too old,” she says.  “I tell them our bodies don’t stop growing things. It’s a good eye opener. Get your mammogram!”

The Women’s Imaging Center at ValleyCare offers digital mammography as well as 3D ultrasound for breast imaging and is conveniently located at 5725 W. Las Positas Blvd. in Pleasanton. ValleyCare also offers digital mammography at its Livermore campus, 1133 E. Stanley Blvd. Do yourself a favor and schedule an

appointment today. Call 925-734-3376.