October 30, 2011
Kane Hospital is Busy with Mammograms
by Ted Lutz, Kane Republican
Since October is “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” Kane Community Hospital is busier than ever in administering mammograms—a potential life-saving medical test for women.
“The mammogram is recognized as the best screening tool for breast cancer,” Julie Laughner said. She is the chief technician for imaging at Kane Community Hospital and is the “lead” mammographer.
“We’re busier more through October because it’s ‘Breast Cancer Awareness Month,’” Laughner said. The “pink” signs, decorations, clothing and other items are “a big influence” in reminding women to schedule their annual mammogram, Laughner said.
“We’re booked pretty solid this month,” she said. “We’re doing eight to 10 mammograms every day.” To respond to the request for mammograms, the hospital has even scheduled the tests for Saturday, Oct. 29.
“We’re booked from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. all day,” Laughner said in looking ahead to her busy schedule next Saturday.
Kane Community Hospital in 2010 performed 1,350 mammograms and is on track to at least match that figure this year.
Laughner said annual mammograms are recommended for all women over the age of 40. Testing begins at an earlier age for women whose mother or sister has had breast cancer, Laughner said.
While many Kane area women faithfully schedule their annual mammogram at the hospital, many others fail to do so.
“A lot of women are worried about the results; they don’t want to know,” Laughner said in explaining why some decline to schedule a mammogram due to this concern.
According to the American Cancer Society, one of eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. The society also points out that “everyone knows someone who has had breast cancer or will have breast cancer in their lifetime.”
Laughner said the “typical mammogram” takes about 30 minutes and includes four images—two on each breast.
Kane Community Hospital has a modern digital imaging machine for mammograms. It’s a workhorse,” Laughner said, “it’s fantastic.” Laughner said there are unfounded myths about mammograms
“Some women t think it’s going to be painful,” Laughner said. “It’s not. There’s pressure, but no one complains about pain. There are no drawbacks.”
Unlike many medical tests, there is a “personal” relationship during a mammogram between the patient and the technician, Laughner said.
“We talk about everything,” L said in discussing the conversation in the mammography unit at the hospital. “I like the personal one-on-one talks. A few patients grab your heart.”
Emilia Anderson, 85, of Ludlow is an example of a local woman who care about her health. “I’ve been having annual mammograms for quite a few years,” she said after her latest test. “They keep us going.”
Anderson called the mammogram “ a very pleasant experience.”“For the time you spend, it’s worth it,” she added.
A Ridgway resident and a 1992 graduate of Ridgway High School, Laughner said most women who do undergo a mammogram at Kane Community Hospital “leave with their results in hand.”
This immediate knowledge gives women a peace of mind before they leave the hospital after their mammogram. Last year, only 8 of 1350 women who underwent mammograms at KCH tested positive for breast cancer.
Early detection is the key for survival and even those who tested positive often show their gratitude to the KCH staff.
“One woman recently came back to thank us for finding her breast cancer so early,” Laughner said, “She was understandably scared and nervous at first. But now she knows it’s very treatable. Being diagnosed with breast cancer is not a death sentence.”
Laughner said most health insurance plans pay for annual mammogram. For women facing high deductibles on their insurance plans, KCH offers mammograms this month for only $60. Women without insurance can schedule a mammogram this month at no charge. Various programs are covering the entire cost.
‘There’s absolutely no excuse for not scheduling your mammograms, “ Laughner said.
KCH sends letters to women to remind them that it’s time to schedule their annual mammogram.
“A lot of women really like this reminder,” Laughner said. Laughner realizes that some women fail to schedule a mammogram because they have “fear of the unknown.” She is ready and willing to help them overcome their anxiety.
“Women can call me if they have questions about the mammogram,” Laughner said. She also welcomes women to meet with her at the radiology department at KCH.
‘I’ll show them the machine we use and answer their question,” Laughner said. She said the women who call or visit are under “no obligation” to schedule a mammogram. Women should first obtain an “order” from their doctor before scheduling a mammogram.
Women who are not under the care of a physician can schedule a mammogram themselves through the hospitalTo schedule a mammogram or obtain more information, call Laughner at KCH Diagnostic Imaging at 837-4580.
Emilia Anderson (left) of Ludlow prepares for her annual mammogram at Kane Community Hospital. Julie Laughner (right) is the “lead” mammographer at the hospital and the chief technician for imaging. Photo by Ted Lutz.