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October 18, 2012
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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Professional football players wearing pink socks?

It's around that time of year again when we all take the time (and ink) to recognize women's wellness and breast cancer awareness and the heroes and heroines behind survival - saluting them with pink cotton shirts, pink ribbons and pink boas.

It's a rosy color for a serious topic.

In Grand County, mammograms have come a long way.

Where before mammograms were conducted with the use of old processed-film technology, the Kremmling Memorial Hospital District invested at least $250,000 of bond money in a new state-of-the art digital mammography unit it located at the Middle Park Medical Center in January.

According to the hospital district's CFO Cole White, prior to the opening of the Middle Park Medical Center, the Kremmling center serviced about 475 mammograms a year with the old system. With the new system, which should attract patients who before traveled to Steamboat Springs or to Summit County or to Denver for the nearest digital mammography unit, the new unit should attract about 25 percent more patients, helping to keep health care dollars here in Grand County.

The new digital technology allows the hospital district to send images via a secured portal to a radiologist in Steamboat Springs, allowing for the district to save costs in that department. If something looks suspect on the image, the patient would be called back for a follow-up appointment.

Patients should always expect the utmost in privacy and discreetness during a mammogram appointment, with female technicians performing the screening. Although mammograms sound intimidating, any modesty issues aside, they're actually a walk in the park - and worth the time and effort it takes to get them done. I know: My sister's breast cancer was detected through a mammogram. After treatment, she has regained a clean bill of health, surviving the scare.

"We know that early detection of breast cancer, lumps and abnormalities in breast tissue, can be the difference between life and death," White said.

And according to Carol Leitner of Middle Park Medical Center, "There is no way to predict who will develop breast cancer and who will not. For these reasons, routine early detection mammography is recommended - before symptoms appear."

The American Cancer Society recommends mammogram screening every year for all women ages 40 and older. Self breast exams and yearly breast exams by a physician will also increase the likelih ood of detecting breast cancer at an early stage.

And try not to let the lack of insurance get in the way of preventative health. For those without insurance, for example, the hospital district caps out-of-pocket expenses on core cancer detection services such as mammography, according to White.

The Middle Park Mecial Center's mammography has earned accreditation by the American College of Radiology in the time since the hospital district updated its equipment. This gold seal of accreditation represents the highest level of image quality and patient safety. It's awarded to facilities meeting the College's practice guidelines and standards upon peer-review evaluation.

To schedule an appointment, or to request a free tour of the radiology department to learn more about screenings, call 970-887-5886. You can schedule a mammogram any day of the week with or without a physician's order.


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The Sky-Hi News Updated Oct 18, 2012 06:36PM Published Oct 18, 2012 06:35PM Copyright 2012 The Sky-Hi News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.