They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but sometimes even that ounce is hard to find the time, and strength, to give. When it comes to preventive cancer screenings, the caring staff at Grays Harbor Imaging and Grays Harbor Community Hospital, encourage all women to come in for annual check-ups.  By overcoming the fear of screenings, patients learn that early detection can make all the difference.

Breast cancer awareness
Dawn Heckathorn (left) and Meghan Gablin are two of the Registered Technologists in Radiology and Mammography helping patients at Grays Harbor Imaging. Photo courtesy: Grays Harbor Imaging

Since 1985, October has been deemed Breast Cancer Awareness month, largely due to the prevalence of diagnostic tools widely available to women resulting in life-changing early detection. BreastCancer.org reports, “About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2016, an estimated 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 61,000 new cases of noninvasive (in situ) breast cancer.”

Such statistics are scary, leading some to put off routine mammograms or annual exams.  But this ‘no news is good news’ approach can backfire. The American Cancer Society explains that “breast cancers found during screening exams are more likely to be smaller and still confined to the breast. The size of a breast cancer and how far it has spread are some of the most important factors in predicting the prognosis (outlook) of a woman with this disease. Most doctors feel that early detection tests for breast cancer help save thousands of lives each year, and that many more lives could be saved if even more women and their health care providers took advantage of these tests.”

Wilna Wheeler, Supervisor of Imaging at Grays Harbor Imaging and Grays Harbor Community Hospital, agrees wholeheartedly. “I’ve seen women skip their yearly and come back in the two-year time frame and was diagnosed with cancer. I firmly believe getting a mammogram ever year is very important. If caught early, the survival rate is very high.”

Grays Harbor Imaging
Grays Harbor Imaging serves patients throughout the area with a variety of imaging needs, including mammograms. Photo courtesy: Grays Harbor Community Hospital

So high, in fact, that the National Breast Cancer Foundation shares with women that, “when breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 100 percent.”

By using film-free imaging, the Diagnostic Imaging department strives to maintain cutting edge equipment for top quality results, without a trip to Olympia, Portland or Seattle. The availability of top technology right in Grays Harbor County removes the barrier of travel and time from taking care of this important annual exam.

The Grays Harbor Imaging offices offer mammography from 7 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The team is experienced and dedicated to helping detect breast cancer early and can help patients access treatment. “We have three certified mammography technologists and we have three board certified radiologists that read the mammograms and all perform ultrasounds and biopsies when necessary,” says Wheeler.

In the Hospital’s Health Information Library is a wealth of information on screening procedures, explanations of commonly used terms and an interactive list of Steps to Success with advice on what to wear, questions to ask, and necessary background info to provide.

Unsure if you’re at increased risk for breast cancer?  Talk to your doctor about any worries or issues and take the online Breast Cancer Risk Assessment to learn about common risk factors. The Hospital’s library suggests that women ages 45 to 54 should have a mammogram every year, and starting at age 55, they can switch to every other year, according to the ACS (American Cancer Society) or have the opportunity to continue screening annually based on their providers recommendation. In women at high risk for breast cancer, it may be best to start even sooner. Your doctor can help you determine your risk level. Medicare will pay in full for an annual screening mammogram each year.

grays harbor community hospital
John Simon is the director of diagnostic imaging at Grays Harbor Community Hospital. Photo courtesy: Grays Harbor Community Hospital.

Rosa Parks once said, “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” Taking the first preventive step is as simple as picking up the phone and calling your health care provider to schedule an exam. Let Wheeler and her team give you peace of mind and world-class care, no matter the diagnosis.

Grays Harbor Imaging, a department of Grays Harbor Community Hospital, is located at 1108 Basich Blvd in Aberdeen, just one block below the hospital. You can reach them at 360-533-0400 to schedule your Screening Mammogram.

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