Thank you to Beekley Medical® for sponsoring this post to share more information about breast cancer awareness and women’s health.
When is a spot just a spot? A shady area, not an ominous foreboding, but simply a shadow? When are accuracy and certainty of the utmost importance? It might not be the first thing that comes to your mind, but in healthcare – and especially for testing and imaging – correctness and accuracy matter. Every time. Not just in getting the diagnosis correct, but in not raising unnecessary concern and bringing on needless anxiety. It would be nice if it were as easy as saying ‘get it right!’ and it simply being that way, but that’s not always the case. But when it comes to medical imaging, Beekley Medical® is working hard to make accuracy as easy as possible for the benefit of the technologist, radiologist, and patient alike.
October is breast cancer awareness month, and we’ve teamed up with Beekley Medical to talk about women’s healthcare and the ability to make the early detection of breast cancer an easier and more attainable goal. They’ve created products with the goal to help make mammograms safer, more comfortable, and most importantly, more accurate. We recently looked at Bella Blankets® protective coverlets and how they can elevate the level of accuracy for a mammogram. Now let’s look at a simple – yet truly effective – way to help technologists easily communicate to the radiologist when reading the mammogram.
What are Mammogram Skin Markers?
When I first read the information on Mammogram Skin Markers, I was surprised at the simplicity of the product. I then realized how brilliant they are and how much sense they make when it comes to their use. Basically, they allow the technologist to apply an external marker to your breast before you get your mammogram, thus providing an effective way for radiologists to identify nipples, raised moles, surgical scars, palpable masses, and non-palpable areas of concern or pain for a more precise interpretation. As a result, mammograms can be more accurate, and the number of callbacks for follow-up exams can be reduced.
The system consists of five different and distinctive shapes. A circle appearing on the image indicates a raised mole. A line visibly shows the location, shape, and length of a previous surgery; a triangle symbolizes a palpable mass; a pellet is used to mark a nipple; and finally, a square identifies non-palpable areas of concern or pain.
- Nipple markers: Improve accuracy and can be used on every patient to differentiate an area of concern from the nipple.
- Non-palpable areas of concern or focal pain markers: provide a precise location of the area in question and localize an area the patient identifies as painful for the radiologist.
- Palpable mass markers: Directs attention to the palpable mass on the image without obscuring calcifications or other findings. They also serve as a visual cue for the technologist, who can then ensure the marker (and the mass) are included on the image.
- Scar markers: act as a reference point and help eliminate confusion by identifying the
location of a biopsy or previous surgery.
- Mole markers: Detects a mole as not an area of concern since moles can localize to deeper slices and result in a recall and help differentiate moles from cancers.
Mammograms and Breast Cancer Awareness
We all know someone that has fought (and God willing won) the battle against cancer, be it a mom, sister, aunt, daughter, friend, or something you personally have faced. We wear pink ribbons, hold rallies, and walk in support of the courageous women fighting this horrific disease. In the US alone, about 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer during the course of their lifetime. That’s roughly 13% of the population! The reality of a statistic like that is that breast cancer affects all of us. And honestly, the best support we can show ourselves and those around us is the willingness to seek preventative measures, so we don’t become 1 of the 8 that hear a late-stage diagnosis and aren’t able to face cancer early. That’s why early detection is so important, and part of that detection system is getting a mammogram.
So, what exactly is a mammogram? Simply put, it’s an X-ray image taken to detect a tumor’s presence or a lump in the breast. According to the American Cancer Society, women between the age of 40-44 with an average risk for breast cancer have the option to start screening for breast cancer every year. However, once you turn 45, it’s recommended you have a mammogram every year until you turn 54. Beyond that, it’s good to either stick with the annual schedule or get one every other year. Women at a higher risk for breast cancer are recommended to get a mammogram every year starting at age 30. Still, regardless of risk level, it’s always recommended that you follow your doctor’s guidance.
An Ounce of Prevention
This October, make a commitment to yourself to strive to attain better health. If you haven’t gotten a mammogram this year and you’re at the age when you should get an exam, get on the phone and make that appointment. If you’ve gotten your mammogram, encourage those around you to do the same. One of my favorite sayings is an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s never truer than when it comes to something as prolific and deadly as breast cancer. The American Cancer Society also states that if caught early and the cancer is localized (there is no sign of cancer outside of the breast), there is a 99% 5-year survival rate.
Check yourself. Get screened. Don’t put off something that can save your life or improve your chances of success – especially something as simple as a mammogram. And with products on the market like Bella Blankets and Mammogram Skin Markers, you can feel confident that your screen will be as accurate as possible, with less chance of error, misdiagnosis, or false alarms.
Visit www.beekley.com for product safety-related information.