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Benefits and Misconceptions of Mammograms

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Survival rates for early-stage breast cancer (which has not yet reached the lymph nodes) are around 98 percent and drop to around 80 percent if the cancer has spread. If the disease is found in even later stages, then the survival rates begin to plummet. Despite these statistics, many women are still hesitant to receive mammograms at all, much less annually.

Despite some possible, slight discomfort, the lifesaving potential of mammograms is worth it. Let’s review the actual procedure:

  • The patient disrobes and puts on a gown.
  • Standing in front of an x-ray machine, the patient puts their breast between two plates.  This part can be a little painful, but necessary. Some facilities offer a comfort pad which could reduce the pain.
  • After 10 to 15 minutes, the imaging is complete and the technician will scan the other breast.

One issue that women worry about is false positives. Some mammograms do come back with abnormal readings. However, only about 10 percent of those end up as actual incidences of breast cancer. Admittedly, receiving such a false positive can be traumatic. But further tests can be conducted to confirm or discount the diagnosis. Is a day or two of potential worry worth the benefit of early detection and associated treatment, which could save your life? It is exceedingly rare for a false positive to result in unwarranted treatment.

Myths and misconceptions about mammograms:

  • Should women skip mammograms if they don’t have a family history of breast cancer?

NO!

Skipping screenings procedures is inadvisable because many women develop the disease without family histories of breast cancer. So, screenings should be done on a regular basis regardless of family history.

  • Do Mammograms cause cancer because of radiation?

NO!

X-rays for mammography use radiation, but they produce about the same low-dose radiation as dental x-rays. Standards set by the Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) dictate the radiation levels are set as low as possible for levels to still produce clear, useable images.

  •  If I feel fine, can I skip the procedure?

NO!

Some women might self-diagnose and believe that early-stage breast cancer will present identifiable symptoms. In most cases, examination is the only way to find a suspicious mass before symptoms are present.

  • If I’m older, can I skip my mammogram?

NO!

Older women might feel they don’t need diagnostic scans. However, they are most at risk for breast cancer. With early detection, senior women have a great opportunity to pursue treatment and fully recover.

As with other areas of your personal health, it’s important you take control of your own body. If your physician fails to recommend a mammogram, but you feel you are in a higher risk group, be sure to speak up. You can also take preventive steps at home by regularly performing self-examinations to find lumps or suspicious changes. By being proactive, you can potentially catch breast cancer in its earliest stages and begin treatment so you can lead a long and healthy life.

Talk to a physician at Mountains Community Hospital to learn more about mammograms. Visit www.mchcares for information.

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Osteoarthritis: Where and Why is it Hurting?

Senior couple on bicycles

Mountains Community Hospital in Lake Arrowhead offers a variety of treatments for Osteoarthritis.

Many “baby boomers” who were born after the end of World War II when servicemen returned from the war are now literally  “knee-deep” in a type of arthritis that is caused, generally speaking, by years of wear and tear on the body’s joints.

Osteoarthritis is a condition that frequently causes patients to change their lifestyle in many different ways. According to an online article on WebMd.com there are risk factors that patients can control to a certain extent and there are factors they can’t control.

There are different types of arthritis but osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage that helps cushion the ends of bones gradually wears away. When this occurs the bones grind against each other and that can cause a great deal of pain. The pain can be so severe that our range of movement is affected because it hurts to raise your arm or walk on legs where there’s no cushioning in the knees.

Among the factors none of us have any control over is ageing. Women over 50 are more likely to have it than men. Sometimes genetic factors will play a role because if it “runs in the family” it increases the likelihood that other family members will eventually have it as well.

Some of the ways people can help “ward off” osteoarthritis is by being selective about what sports they play. Football and other sports where tackling is often part of the game are probably not the best idea for players with arthritis risk factors. Osteoarthritis usually occurs in weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips but it can also be found in fingers, the thumb, neck and big toe. In some cases patients will develop osteoarthritis as the result of some type of physical trauma, such as an automobile accident.

Obesity ramps up the possibility that people will get osteoarthritis. Losing weight, even just a few pounds, can reduce the chances for ultimately facing the challenging “osteoarthritis onslaught.”

Patients can help their physician by keeping a record on where, when and how much they feel pain. X-rays or other imaging techniques may be ordered to confirm the osteoarthritis diagnosis.

Unfortunately, there is little if anything that can be done to stop cartilage from eroding. However, there are ways to help patients deal with pain and increase their flexibility. Physical therapy is one of the best avenues because it teaches patients how to slowly strengthen the muscles surrounding the affected joint.

Web Md. Com cautions patients that, overall, studies do not show that supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin help relieve pain and stiffness and they urge patients to discuss taking chondroitin with their physician, especially if they’re taking blood-thinners.

Mountains Community Hospital makes possible essential quality medical services to the residents and visitors of the local mountains. We provide peace of mind by securing the health of the community. Patient care is guided by interdepartmental collaboration which takes into account the unique knowledge, judgment and skills of a variety of professionals and disciplines. Open communication between departments ensures the most efficient, effective patient care.

Considering the patient and his or her family valued partners in the delivery of care, we include them in each step of treatment. We administer at MCH does not stop at the physical, but incorporates developmental, emotional, social, psychological, cultural and spiritual healing, as well.  We recognize the diversity of our community and are committed to preserving the dignity of our patients and acting as advocates on their behalf. At Mountains Community Hospital, we care about your health.