Think Pink Thursdays: the importance of getting a mammogram

The importance of getting a mammogram

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Throughout the month of October, KSLA is highlighting Breast Cancer Awareness Month with ‘Think Pink Thursday.’

This week, we are focusing on the importance of receiving an annual mammogram, a quick procedure that saves lives. We spoke with Maria Decareaux, who is a mammographer at Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans.

Maria encourages women 40 years and older to get an annual mammogram to check for possible breast cancer.

“If we can find breast cancer early enough, we can cure it,” Decareaux said. “We can find it (tumor) when it’s very small and it can definitely cure the patient.”

According to breastcancer.org, one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point during their lifetime.

Despite this statistic, Maria says technology has advanced over the years, allowing for professionals like her to effectively spot smaller tumors.

Mammograms save lives

“When I first started in the ’80s, we didn’t even have specialized machines for the breast, we used film,” Decareaux explained. “Now, everything is digital... we have 3D mammography, which takes X-rays at different angles and can see inside the breast.”

Maria told KSLA many women are nervous when they come in for their first exam, though that’s when she steps in to ensure them the procedure is painless. However, if a suspicious lump is detected during a mammogram, that’s when the next steps are necessary.

“We would do a regular screening mammogram firstly and then we see something suspicious,” she explained. “We’ll call the patient back for an ultrasound...which tells us if something is a cyst (fluid-filled) or if it’s solid... then we’d recommend a biopsy.”

“You see a number of patients, you console them, if we have to recommend a biopsy, we console them for sure,” Decareaux said. " “The patients are very comforted by the fact they seem the same person over-and-over again.”

For more information on mammograms, head over to the American Cancer Society.

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