By Ms. Suzanne Ovel (Regional Health Command Pacific)October 20, 2018
MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Tacoma, Wash. -- Dozens of women took part in breast cancer screenings on Oct. 20 at Madigan Army Medical Center, marking the third year that the Breast Imaging Clinic opened its doors on a Saturday to give patients better access to care.
The event allows patients who work or who are otherwise busy during the week to still take part in preventive care. With an estimated 1 in 8 women likely to get breast cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mammograms can help to detect cancer in its early stages.
For patient Cresencia Aba, who took part in the Saturday event, getting regular screenings give her peace of mind, especially as she witnesses friends living with breast cancer.
"I've got a friend who didn't go for the mammogram and had a mastectomy for one breast, and she's still in chemo right now … and I've got a friend who is already one year in remission. They're my close friends," said Aba, who's been a Madigan patient since 1980.
Last year's event screened 36 women who all came back with normal results. "That was great because this is 36 women we know don't have breast cancer," said Stacey Rodriguez, chief nurse of the Department of Soldier and Community Health.
Population health nurses reached out directly to patients who were due for mammograms to ensure they had greater opportunities to engage in their own preventive care, according to Whitney Sutton, the population health nurse for Family Medicine.
"A lot of times we give people calls and they say 'I can't make it during those hours,' and just offering for a Saturday event, they love it," she said.
Screenings were primarily offered for women between the ages of 50 and 74, which falls in line with recommendations by the United States Preventive Services Task Force. Women with average risk in that age group are encouraged to receive mammograms every two years.
"For women outside of this age range, we recommend they discuss their risk factors with their primary care provider who can guide them to the best decision," said Rodriguez. "We need to encourage patients to have open and proactive conversations with their providers because the patients are the leaders of their own healthcare team. We want patients to be in engaged in that decision making and care planning; (it's) definitely important to have discussions about screening early."