Mammograms are key to detecting early breast cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and early detection is key to prevent the cancer taking over your body.

Dr. Diana Bitner, a nationally recognized women's health specialist from Spectrum Health, says that mammograms are the key to finding breast cancer early in patients. However some people might be intimidated by the process of getting a mammogram, or claim they don't have the time to get one.

A mammogram only takes about 10 minutes, but there's a couple worries patients have about the process.

One concern patients have is that a mammogram will hurt, but that isn't the case. Patients should just feel pressure on their breasts between two special paddles. These paddles scan the breast tissue and look for signs of breast cancer.

There is another concert with patients who have very small breasts and are worried that there isn't enough tissue for the machine to be able to detect anything, especially for men who usually have hardly any tissue. There are a wide range of paddles that doctors can put on the machine, so they can look to see if there are any abnormalities or lumps in the tissue.

So whether or not you're at risk for breast cancer, women should get mammograms yearly after the age of 45. It is especially important for women to keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary and check themselves with a self-given breast exam every month. If you find any lumps or anything out of the ordinary, then schedule an appointment with your doctor.

To spread awareness of breast cancer, Spectrum Health is holding their annual Candid Conversations event. There will also be dance performances, along with guest speaker Diahann Carroll, who is a Tony Award winner and the first African-American actress to star in her own television series.

Candid Conversations will be on Wednesday, October 19 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m at Grand Rapids Christian High School.

Dr. Bitner's office is located at 3800 Lake Michigan Drive Northwest, Suite A. To schedule an appointment with her, call (616) 267-8225.


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