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Breast Cancer Awareness at SLVH

October is here and it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month! San Luis Valley Health offers state-of-the-art imaging services and some things you should know about breast cancer screening.

(Pictured above left to right: Janet McGinnis, Director of Imaging; Dr. Matt Lowery, Radiologist; and Barbara Carlsen, Mammography Technologist)

At SLVH’s Stephanie L. Miner Women’s Imaging Center, patients are able to be screened for breast cancer using Tomosynthesis (commonly referred to as 3D Mammography). Tomosynthesis can increase the ability to detect breast cancer by up to 40% AND can also help reduce unnecessary callbacks (extra pictures) by up to 40% compared to standard 2D digital mammography.

The addition of Tomosynthesis to SLVH’s breast imaging services has also made it possible for our breast radiologists to perform stereotactic (mammography guided) biopsies. This means women in the San Luis Valley and surrounding communities that need this procedure no longer have to travel to Pueblo or Colorado Springs. They can now have this procedure performed by a highly trained and experienced breast imaging radiologist right here in the valley!

Breast cancer can affect any woman, not just those who have a relative that was diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. In fact, about 75% of women diagnosed with breast cancer every year have no family history of the disease! It’s also important to understand that if you have one or more relatives who have been diagnosed with other types of cancer like ovarian or pancreatic cancer, this could mean that you have an elevated risk of developing breast cancer.

The American College of Radiology (ACR), Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) and many other women’s health organizations recommend that ALL women begin yearly screening mammograms at age 40. The ACR and SBI also recommend that all women have a formal lifetime breast cancer risk assessment performed by the age of 30. This can help determine if you may benefit from beginning breast cancer screening before age 40 or if you may benefit from additional forms of breast cancer screening in addition to annual mammograms such as MRI or ultrasound of the breasts.

If you would like to discuss your breast cancer risk with your doctor, you can get started by filling out the information in this widely used breast cancer risk calculator that will generate your personalized risk score:

To make an appointment in radiology, you can contact these facilities:

Regional Medical Center - Call (719) 587-1231.

Conejos County Hospital - Call (719) 274-6029.

Stuart Avenue Clinic - Call (719) 589-8024.

To further discuss breast cancer risk and awareness, contact your primary care provider or make an appointment with the SLVH Women's Health Clinic.