Checkups Encouraged During Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Josephine Klicek, director of Diagnostic Imaging at IU Health Starke Hospital, says all women age 40 and up should get a mammogram, but younger people should also be doing their own breast exams, “If you find a lump or you find a mass or you have some concerns, that’s an immediate visit to your doctor, absolutely. Sometimes we’re going to choose to do an ultrasound first on someone in their 20s or 30s, but the radiologist who’s the specialist that reads mammography may say, yes, in this case we’re going to go ahead and proceed and do a mammogram.”

She says while family history plays a big part in determining who’ll get cancer, it’s important everyone gets checked out, “Mammography has helped reduce breast cancer mortality in the U.S. by nearly a third since 1990. That’s huge, but we should know that one in six breast cancers occur in women aged 40 to 49 and three-quarters of these women have no family history of breast cancer. That’s what makes a mammogram so important.”

Klicek says it’s easy to get checked out, and the hospital has vouchers available to help with the cost for people who don’t have insurance, “Mammograms are easy now. There’s less radiation. It’s a quick appointment. It takes less than 15 minutes. You don’t need an order from your doctor if you’re over 40. You can call scheduling, schedule it yourself, come right in. We need to know who your doctor is so we can send the results to him or her. And we want to make sure that everybody comes and has a mammogram that is of the age group.”

She also says, while it’s rare, men can also be at risk, “Men do get breast cancer. Although we don’t recommend that men have screening mammograms, we do recommend that men do an exam on their self. Although breast cancer in men is rare, I have seen some. It is one percent of all breast cancer, but of course we all would like it to be zero percent. Where the lump is mostly found in men is behind the nipple. So, you know, while you’re taking your shower it is worth it to go ahead and check.”

For more information or to set up an appointment, call 574-772-1139.