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Healthy Living: Mammography screening

Morning news anchor shares her close call after going to an annual exam.
Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 7:45 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - If you’ve followed Alaska’s News Source’s health reports, you might remember when I, Ariane Aramburo, went in for my first-ever mammogram at Imaging Associates. It was during October 2018, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I thought it was important to show the process from start to finish and help answer some common questions and the main one for me, does it hurt?

It might be a little uncomfortable for some, but it wasn’t painful. It was also a chance to raise awareness for breast cancer and why mammography screening is so important.

Fast forward to September 2020, I went in for an annual exam and that’s when the nurse practitioner found a lump on my right breast. There’s no history of breast cancer in my family, but I was advised to get screened to rule anything out. I ended up getting another mammogram and a sonogram. I’m happy to report it’s a benign cyst and not cancerous, but it was still a wake-up call on just how important mammography screenings and self-exams are.

We spoke with Dr. Kelly Powers, Director of Breast Imaging at Alaska Regional Hospital about how breast cancer, while the second leading cause of cancer death for women nationwide and in Alaska, is also one of the most preventable types of cancers.

“Since we’ve started screening in 1980, the risk of dying from breast cancer has reduced almost 40%. That is why breast cancer screening with mammography is so important so we can detect it and if we can detect it early enough, we can cure it," Powers said.

Self-exams are also just as important.

“Certainly if a woman feels a lump or feels something new or suspicious in their breast, come get it checked out. Just from the almost 15 plus years I’ve been doing this, that a lot of women find their own breast cancer on breast self-exams," Powers explained.

The entire screening process takes about 10 minutes and doesn’t hurt. All screening mammograms are open to all women and most insurance providers cover it. If you have a family history, Powers said it’s worth talking to your doctor as you might need to get screened before the age of 40.

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