The physicians and staff of Oswego Health will take part in activities throughout October that promote national Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Perhaps the most important action community members can take is to encourage the women they know to have a mammogram.
Oswego Health Radiology Chief Dr. Mark Franklin recommends most women undergo a yearly mammogram beginning at age 40. Women who are at higher risk of breast cancer should talk with their healthcare provider about whether to have mammograms before the age of 40 and how often to undergo one.
Those at a higher risk for breast cancer include individuals who have a first degree relative — such as a mother or sister — who has had the disease.
Oswego Health radiologists, as part of the interpretation of each woman’s mammography screening, use a risk tool that can be found at U.S. National Institutes of Health web site: www.cancer.gove/bcrisktool.
“A digital mammogram is one of the most important tools physicians have to diagnose breast cancer,” Dr. Franklin said. “Early breast cancer detection through mammography likely results in improved outcomes.”
“Along with having a yearly mammogram, I encourage women to have a clinical breast exam yearly by their healthcare provider,” Dr. Franklin said. “Monthly self-breast exams are also important in the detection of breast cancer.”
In addition to offering digital mammogram services, Oswego Hospital can perform breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), adding one more diagnostic tool in the fight against breast cancer.
A breast MRI is one of the latest technologies available to assist in the detection of breast cancer. This new technology allows radiologists to see abnormalities that sometimes cannot be seen on either a mammogram or ultrasound. Specialized software assists radiologists with the interpretation of the approximately 1,200 images created during a single study.
Dr. Franklin encourages women who are known to be at high risk for breast cancer, or who have a first-degree family member with the disease, to have a breast MRI. Among those at higher risk are women who have had a first degree family member with breast cancer.
“This new technology is another tool for women at risk for breast cancer,” Dr. Franklin said. “A MRI of the breast has been performed for a number of reasons that include the diagnosis of breast implant rupture, surgical planning, staging of breast cancer and treatment planning, post surgical and post radiation follow up, dense breast tissue evaluation and evaluating trouble areas identified through a mammogram or ultrasound.”
Dr. Franklin added a breast MRI is not a replacement for mammography or ultrasound imaging, but rather a supplemental tool for detecting and staging breast cancer and other breast abnormalities.
The breast MRI takes about 20 minutes and entails the use of an intravenous contrast. A physician referral is required.
Digital mammography appointments can be made in several convenient locations throughout Oswego County, including the Oswego Health Services Center, Fulton Medical Center, the newly opened Central Square Medical Center and at the Pulaski Health Center.
To make a mammography screening appointment in either Oswego or Pulaski, call 349-5540. For appointments in Fulton and Central Square, call 592-3555.
To make an appointment for a breast MRI, call (800) 634-2468.
Oswego Health Offers Breast Cancer Support Group
For residents seeking a breast cancer support group, the caring and sharing breast cancer support group meets the third Tuesday of the month from 6:30 to 8:30 p. m. in the conference room of the Fulton Medical Center.
Leading the group is Liz Schremp.
“We call breast cancer treatment a journey and our members have all experienced the many emotions you feel during that journey,” said Schremp last year when the group began meeting at the Fulton Medical Center. “Breast cancer for a woman can be very, very overwhelming. There are phases of the journey and we lead each person on a positive route.”
In addition to the support group, its members can provide a facilitator 24 hours a day to those that need support before the next support group meeting. Schremp can be contacted by calling 592-7468.