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Survivor says yearly mammogram helped save her life

Nine out of ten women diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a history of the disease in their family. That's why doctors say it's important to remind your mom, sister or any woman in your life to get a yearly mammogram screening.

Posted: Oct 17, 2019 4:21 AM
Updated: Oct 17, 2019 10:59 AM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- The month of October is special to Pamela Evans. It's a time when she honors other breast cancer fighters and survivors. Four years ago, it was also the month doctors diagnosed her with breast cancer. 

Evans said her decision to get a screening each year helped catch her breast cancer during its early stages. This helped save her life. 

"The longer you go without finding it, the more it grows," said Evans. "If I was someone who got one every three years, it would've been a whole different story."

She decided to get a double mastectomy and re-construction surgery. It's important for fighters to have support and for survivors to take time to heal, according to Evans. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Evans wants to remind women they shouldn't wait to get a mammogram. 

"All of my family has ended up having cancer," Evans said. "Both of my parents died from it. I would guess that there was probably a good chance that it wouldn't have been pretty if I waited."

There's a hint of pink in most outfits Evans wears during October. She uses the color to show support for other fighters and survivors. 

Yearly mammogram screenings

Women should start getting mammograms once a year when they turn 40, doctors said. These yearly mammogram screenings can help women catch breast cancer early. 

The screenings take about 10-15 minutes. Mammography techs guide women and men to place their breast on the machine's surface. A compression plate gently flattens the breast out to let the machine take a better x-ray picture. Modern mammogram machines can move side to side and create detailed 3-D pictures. 

"Mammograms are super important because they're still the gold standard," said Kelly Adams, a mammography tech at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. "They're the best way to detect for breast cancer. Mammograms can find breast cancer in its earliest stages and that can help save a life later on."

Mammogram technology has drastically changed throughout the past four decades, according to Mack Bandler, a diagnostic radiologist at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. 

Pictures weren't nearly as clear in the past and mammogram screenings weren't nearly as fast, Bandler said. 

"The technology is so rapid now," said Bandler. "By the time the technologists walk from the mammography suite into the reading room, the images are ready to be looked at."

Modern mammogram machines do not use a lot of radiation to get those pictures. Doctors said in the past, the machines used to release a lot more radiation. 

In addition to yearly mammogram screenings, doctors said women should check their breasts for unusual lumps once a month. 

Resources at Asante

The Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford hosts a breast cancer support group on the first and third Thursday of each month from 12:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. That support group meets on the first floor 1-B conference room. 

For more information about that support group click here

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