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December 07, 2017 06:15 PM

Breast Cancer Screening

Sioux Falls, SD

Heading to the doctor when you're not sick may seem like a waste of time. 

But getting screened for certain ailments is one reason you may want to go anyway. 

Eighteen years later, Susan McGowan still remembers her reaction when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 78. 

"She ended up with a diagnosis of bilateral breast cancer with positive nodes on both sides. Well, that just sent shivers up my spine," McGowan said. 

With no family history of breast cancer, McGowan and her mother still have annual breast cancer screenings, which McGowan credits with catching her mother's cancer.    
"There's a lot of anxiety that goes along with breast cancer screening. We want to be able to give the best care to our patients and try to individualize that," Dr. Melinda Talley said. 

That's why five California universities and Sanford Health have teamed up to do what is called the Wisdom Trial. 

"How do we screen women for breast cancer? What is the best way? It's quite confusing right now," Talley said. 

The study is looking at who, when, and for how long a woman should be screened. 

"What we hope to achieve is, let's look at the screening, let's look at individual patients, see what their risks are, and then try to tailor a screening program to them," Talley said. 

While the specifics on the best way to be screened for breast cancer aren't clear yet, Talley urges women to come in and get checked. 

"The benefits of screening allow us to find those cancers at a smaller size, so they're more easily treated," Talley said. 

McGowan wants people to know that the screening is painless, and worth every second of your time. 

"They don't let you wait very long and it was out of there. She had a year of treatment. She's at the rightful age of 96 now. It's a good thing. It's a good story," McGowan said. 

She's thankful her mother participated in the screenings... because without it, her story may have had a very different ending. 

The study has already begun but is still asking for more women to join in. If you're a Sanford patient and interested in participating, click here.

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