GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – One in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Annual mammograms and self-examinations are vital to catching breast cancer early, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
“The earlier we can detect the breast cancer, the better the patient does.”
Ranzella Jenkins has two sisters who have had breast cancer, but she says it’s getting more difficult to remember to schedule her annual mammogram.
“I’m older now and my memory is not perfect anymore,” Jenkins says. “I shouldn’t have to call and ask someone hey when is my next mammogram, you know? They should call me and let me know.”
During an unrelated appointment in April, Bon Secours staff reminded her that she was 5 months overdue for a mammogram.
She’s not alone. Through research, Bon Secours St. Francis found that 30 percent of its Medicare and Managed care patients were forgoing their annual mammograms.
It launched the Save a Life campaign, which was created to increase mammogram screenings.
“We would ask, ‘Hey, you’re coming in for your bone density exam,’ or ‘I see you’re getting an x-ray for something else, do you want us to go ahead and get your mammogram done, get it scheduled while you’re here?’” Bon Secours St. Francis Chief Clinical Officer Marcus Blackstone said.
The campaign launch involved extending mammography hours, adding more technicians, purchasing a mobile mammography unit and putting new protocol in place.
Still, the biggest key to early detection, Blackstone says, is performing routine breast self-examinations.
“I’ve had more patients pick up suspicious things themselves,” he said. “Look for a change, a lump… where the skin is usually nice and soft it becomes hard. It’s called an orange peel effect, where it takes on a rough texture”
The National Breast Cancer Foundation encourages all women to perform a breast self-exam once a month and the CDC recommends that all women get a mammogram every year, starting at age 40.
Since the launch, Bon Secours St. Francis has seen a 39 percent increase in its monthly screening mammogram orders year over year