HealthBeat: Mammograms matter


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Keeping up with annual health screenings plays an important role in your health.

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States according to the CDC.

Dr. Chris Johansen says catching breast cancer early through annual mammograms makes a significant difference in treating it.

“The general rule is to start at age 40 that’s for the average woman who doesn’t have a strong family history or other risk factors for breast cancer,” Johansen said.

But other factors including family history may result in your doctor wanting to see you for a mammogram even sooner.

41-year-old Tara Dokken went in for her second ever mammogram in February, and the results were a complete shock.

“They called me on Wednesday afternoon and told me that I needed to come back for an ultrasound and a biopsy. And so I did that and they found the cancer,” Dokken said.

Fortunately, she says the breast cancer was caught at a very early stage.

Dr. Johansen says Sanford Health has five fellowship trained breast imaging radiologists, making early diagnosis’ like Dokken’s a priority.

“We go and do an extra year of training doing nothing but breast cancer imaging. And that really allows us to focus and delve into the nuances of looking for breast cancer with mammography, but also with ultrasound and MRI, as well as doing biopsies to identify cancers without needing a surgery,” Johansen said.

He says catching cancer early results in more effective treatment and cost for patients.

“When it started, they told me that because it was caught so early, that it’s about a 98% cure rate for my breast cancer,” Dokken said.

With only a few radiation treatments left before her treatment is complete, she hopes others will be adamant about their annual screenings.

“I like to think that my message to everybody is a mammogram saved my life and it could possibly save other lives,” Dokken said.

For more information on breast cancer and when you should begin screening, click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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