Breast cancer is the most common cancer, other than skin cancers, among American women, and the American Cancer Society estimates that one in every eight women in the country — about 12 percent of American women — will develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime.
ACS estimates that this year in the United States, about 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women, and about 64,640 new cases of carcinoma in situ — the earliest, noninvasive form of breast cancer — will be diagnosed.
By the end of this year, about 39,620 women will have died from breast cancer, the organization predicts.
The key to successfully treating breast cancer is finding it early, said Blake Kretz, president of Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne. Early detection equals earlier, more effective treatment. That equals a better long-term prognosis for those fighting the disease.
That is why Texas Health Cleburne is working to break down the barriers keeping women from having mammograms, he said. Digital mammography services are available at the hospital. But now, working in collaboration with Texas Health Resources system hospitals in Fort Worth, Texas Health Cleburne also has the opportunity to bring mammography services out of the hospital and into the community.
Mobile mammography units have visited Cleburne twice already during the month of October.
“And we expect to bring it in a third time before the end of the year,” he said.
Kretz said the hospital will be working with churches and other civic groups to plan mobile mammography events.
Traditionally, a mammogram was an X-ray of breast tissue. Digital mammograms use digital receptors and computer programs instead of X-ray film to examine breast tissue for cancerous growths.
Digital mammography allows computer programs to check scans for abnormalities, giving doctors a better idea of whether such potential problems exist.
Texas Health Cleburne added a Computer Aided Detection software called ImageChecker in 2004. According to the hospital’s website, The ImageChecker CAD system from R2 Technology — the first FDA-approved computer-aided detection system for screening and full view diagnostic mammograms — has the potential to detect cancers up to two years earlier.
“It’s another layer, another fail-safe that helps us make sure that we catch any signs of cancer at the earliest possible point,” Kretz said.
The mobile mammography program helps break down one barrier by bringing mammography services out from behind hospital walls and into the community. But there are other barriers, too, chief among them financial. Kretz said Texas Health Cleburne is fighting to break through those, too.
The hospital’s Mammograms Are A Must! program, funded through donations raised by the Black & White Gala, enables Texas Health Cleburne to give free mammograms to women who have no insurance and cannot pay for the test on their on.
In 2012, the Black & White Gala raised about $165,000, which was divided between the Mammograms Are A Must! program, Know Your PSA and Shots for Tots. This year’s gala, held in August, brought in about $175, all of which is being used to purchase a new ultrasound machine to be used in finding cancer and other breast anomalies more effectively.
Mammogram appointments are available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at Texas Health Cleburne. Walk-ins and immediate requests are accommodated.
To schedule an appointment, call 817-556-5400.