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New Ulm Medical Center

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Just a few decades ago, breast cancer was discussed in hushed tones, and research on the disease was still in its infancy. Today, people proudly wear their pink ribbons, and every week seems to bring another media report about a new breast cancer study. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, many staff and healthcare providers at New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC) will be among those proudly wearing their pink ribbons.

mammogram

Dr. Nate Groebner (front) and Janet Kral, radiology technologist, review a mammogram together at New Ulm Medical Center recently. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and all patients who receive a mammogram in the month of October at NUMC will receive a small gift. Mammography is the best tool available for early detection of breast cancer.

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, NUMC will be giving away a small keychain flashlight to every patient who has a mammogram during that month to support the medical center’s theme of “Light the way to a Cure.” In addition, NUMC will hold its annual fundraiser to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The fundraiser consists of staff and providers paying $5 for the privilege of wearing jeans and pink shirts that day.

“It’s the only ‘jean day’ we have at the medical center all year. That’s how important raising awareness about breast cancer and early detection is to our staff and administration,” said Radiology Manager Kathleen Bauer.

Early detection is the key to the ultimate survival rate for breast cancer patients, said New Ulm Medical Center Radiologist Nate Groebner, MD. “Mammography is the best tool we have for detecting breast cancer in the early stages, when it’s easiest to treat.”

If you are at average risk for breast cancer, NUMC recommends the following schedule:

  • Ages 40 to 49: encouraged to have a screening mammogram every year or talk with your health care provider.
  • Ages 50 to 74: should have a screening mammogram every year.
  • Ages 75 and older: talk with your health care provider about how often to schedule a mammogram.

Women should talk with their doctors about their personal risk factors before making a decision about when to start getting mammograms or how often they should get them. If you are at higher than average risk, your doctor may recommend a different schedule.

Women who are uninsured or underinsured and concerned about being able to afford a mammogram should know there are options for them, Bauer said. The Sage Screening Program is a breast and cervical cancer screening program in Minnesota whose key objective is to increase screenings for women in the appropriate age-range. Sage provides free screening and follow-up services for women who are uninsured or underinsured.

Among the services offered through the Sage Screening Program are: office visit for breast and/or cervical exam; screening mammogram (breast exam required); diagnostic mammogram; and a fine need aspiration of breast lump, including pathology reading. For a complete listing of the services, pick up a brochure from the NUMC clinic.

To find out more about eligibility for the Sage program, call 1-866-643-2584. This will connect you with a representative of the Sage program who will ask a series of questions to determine if you qualify for the program and then will connect you with NUMC to make an appointment.

“Not only is it important to get regular mammograms but the technology itself continues to improve so early detection has become much easier to facilitate, especially with the advent of digital mammography” Groebner said.

Mammography, which uses X-rays to produce an image, picks up 80 to 90 percent of breast cancers in women without symptoms. But like other medical tests, it is imperfect, so scientists are always looking for new-and-improved detection methods to supplement this tried-and-true one. Some imaging tests are already used in specific situations. MRI scans, which use magnets and radio waves to create detailed images, can help screen certain high-risk women. Breast ultrasound, which uses high-frequency sound waves to peer inside the body, can help evaluate breast problems found on a mammogram.

At NUMC, the mammogram technologists include Jackie Guggisberg, Janet Kral, Leann Lendt, Lynn Martinka and Jane Stueber. Breast ultrasound technologists include Gina Berg, Diane Bianchi, Sandy Donnay and Karissa Hull.

A woman who got breast cancer back in 1975 didn’t have a lot of options other than a mastectomy. Today, women have a host of treatment choices including breast biopsies, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, which involves receiving cancer-killing drugs either intravenously or by mouth. Because of a dramatic increase in the number of patients receiving chemotherapy at NUMC over the last several years, the facility is in the midst of constructing a new Cancer Center that will have more than double the space. See the related article in this issue of Health Edition for more information about that project.

Select this link for more information about digital mammography at New Ulm Medical Center. To schedule a mammogram at NUMC, call 507-217-5150.