When Sherry Grant, 50, of Mishawaka started getting mammograms ten years ago, they were on film. Now, she gets digital mammograms at XRC Imaging.
For Sherry, it is a no-brainer. This mother of two sees it as a simple screening test that could save her life and her reasons are very personal.
“My dad died of colon cancer and a screening would have saved his life, so on the basis of that I decided that if screening is all it takes, that is what I'm going to do,” said Sherry.
Radiologist Dr. Michael McCrea says digital mammography, which is now widely used, has greatly advanced mammography.
He said, “Digital mammography for a woman is important because there are very few retakes. In the old analog film screen system, we would have a mammogram and sometimes that mammogram wouldn't turn out well because of exposure by a technologist.”
You can see quite clearly how different digital mammography is.
“The fact that you have to use a magnifying lens to see some of the things up close differs. Now, I can just use magnification by our computer.”
Dr. McCrae and other radiologists can use computer aided diagnosis, or CAD, to help them look for abnormalities.
“It says, okay, there may be something here. That computer has been trained to look for these sorts of abnormalities in terms of density, configurations and the presence of calcifications,” he said.
Dr. McCrae says it is especially helpful for women who have, what doctors call, dense breasts.
“Women that have more glandular tissue, tend to have more density in their mammograms. It's easier for us to be able to see those areas.”
For Sherry, it is a test well worth piece of mind.
“It's uncomfortable, but it's not painful like everybody says. It was great, it was no big deal,” she said.
Dr. McCrae says the big deal is the results.
“There's no doubt about that. This does saves lives.”
Dr. McCrae joins other Michiana doctors in disagreeing with a government task force that last year recommended women start getting mammograms at age 50.
He says 17-percent of all breast cancers are found between the ages of 40 and 50, and waiting until you are fifty for your first could mean the difference between life and death.
He is also a strong believer in self breast exams.
I talked to sherry Wednesday, and her mammogram came back normal. Her advice to women -- make sure you get yours!