It’s breast Cancer Awareness Month, and once again the health care professionals at Ringgold County Hospital are strongly encouraging all women over the age of 40 to have an annual mammogram. It’s a simple, non-invasive procedure. “It’s only 10 minutes,” said Shelly Shields, medical imaging manager. “But those 10 minutes can save your life.”

Kelsey Mullins, left, and Shelly Shields, right

Why get a mammogram? Breast cancers found during a mammogram are more likely to be smaller and still confined to the breast. Finding breast cancer early (called early detection) can improve the chances that breast cancer can be treated successfully and with more treatment options, less extensive surgery, and ultimately, better treatment outcomes.

Who should get screened? The American Cancer Society’s breast cancer screening guidelines vary based on a woman’s age and risk factors for breast cancer. It’s generally agreed that annual mammograms for women over the age of 40 are recommended. Talk to your doctor about the screening plan that is best for you. While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages. The American Cancer Society encourages women to make healthy lifestyle choices such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity, and reducing alcohol intake. These choices can help reduce their breast cancer risk. The American Cancer Society also encourages regular
screenings to find breast cancer early, when it is most likely to be curable.

The big news in breast cancer detection is the 3D Mammography machine. Ringgold County Hospital acquired one a couple of years ago. “We decided the benefits far outweighed the costs. We really wanted to get it for our community,” said Shelly. The 3D Mammography machine brings the most advanced imaging available today to the area. Patients don’t have to travel to get the best of the best. “The convenience of it being right here means we’re detecting more breast cancers, earlier,” said Shelly. “Early detection is what saves lives.” The machine’s sophistication also means fewer women need to come back for a second set of images. “It’s low-dose radiation, and it reduces call-backs by 40%.” At Ringgold County Hospital, the benefits of high-tech imaging come with outstanding patient care. Shelly and Kelsey have been doing mammograms and other imaging for 30 years. Our patients are our friends, neighbors and family. “We want to help them be comfortable. Their experience is so important to us.” To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 641-464-4400.