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Breast cancer awareness month: Mammo Mondays and more

This October during Breast Cancer Awareness month, Centegra encourages women to take steps to reduce their breast cancer risks.

It is especially important for women to maintain a healthy weight, especially in midlife and later. After menopause, most of the hormone estrogen in a woman’s body comes from fat cells. Estrogen can spur the growth of many breast tumors and being overweight or obese can raise breast cancer risk. Women may be especially vulnerable to breast cancer if extra pounds settle on their waist, rather than their hips and thighs.

These additional steps may help women reduce their risk for breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS):

• Avoid alcohol. Drinking is clearly tied to a heightened risk of developing breast cancer. In fact, your risk increases the more you drink.

• Be active. A growing body of research indicates that exercise lowers breast cancer risk. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week.

• Carefully weigh the pros and cons of hormone therapy. Hormone therapy that uses both estrogen and progesterone can increase breast cancer risk in as few as two years of use. The use of estrogen alone after menopause does not seem to raise the risk of developing breast cancer. If a woman and her doctor agree that hormone therapy is necessary to ease bothersome menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, it is best to take the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time.

Since breast cancer can develop even with these precautions, the ACS advises women to have yearly mammograms starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as they are in good health.

Annual digital mammograms can detect cancer in its early stages and give women a head start on potentially lifesaving treatment.

Centegra Health System’s nationally recognized breast health program recognizes the importance of early detection. Centegra continues to sponsor Mammo Monday events throughout McHenry County during October and begins a new campaign to inspire breast health.

Women are encouraged to attend a Mammo Monday event on their own or bring their mother, daughters, sisters and friends to a special, private setting to take control of their breast and bone health. Offerings include screening mammograms, bone density screenings, free expert bra fittings and light snacks.

Earning full accreditation from the American College of Surgeons National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), Centegra’s breast program meets the most rigorous standards, demonstrating Centegra’s proactive commitment to providing the best possible care, treatment options and support to patients.

Upcoming Mammo Mondays will be offered at the following locations and times:

  • 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7 at Centegra Gavers Breast Center
  • 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14 at Centegra Hospital-McHenry
  • 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21 at Centegra Health Center-Huntley
  • 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28 at Centegra Hospital-Woodstock

On Oct. 2, Centegra  launched a new breast health campaign called U+2. It encourages women to invite two others to get their mammograms. To learn more and how to participate, visit centegra.org/u2.

In addition to the state-of-the-art imaging technology already provided, Centegra Gavers Breast Center–Crystal Lake now offers tomosynthesis, also known as 3-D breast imaging. Ideal for women with dense breasts, this new technology captures multiple images (slices) of the breast at different angles, providing 3-D reconstruction. The enriched view helps healthcare providers see if anything of concern is hiding behind overlapping tissue, providing women a greater peace of mind. The new technology was made possible by a generous gift from the Centegra Hospital-Woodstock Auxiliary, McHenry Country Club Ladies Association, Richmond Spring Grove Chamber of Commerce Women’s Network and many more to the Centegra Health System Foundation.

At Centegra, a mammogram is more than just a screening. It is a caring experience that leaves women wondering why they did not make their mammogram appointment sooner. Centegra offers four convenient, high-tech imaging suites in Crystal Lake, Huntley, McHenry or Woodstock, so a mammogram experience is always close to home. Centegra also provides mammograms in a relaxing atmosphere with the latest state-of-the-art digital mammography, a MammoPad for extra physical comfort and caring Associates dedicated to making every mammogram experience focused on each individual.

The American Cancer Society recommends annual mammograms for women 40 and older to maintain breast health and as a proven way to detect breast cancer in its earliest stage. Centegra is committed to maintaining the health and wellness of women in the community and celebrates the commitment women make to breast health.

Quick 30-minute appointments are easy to schedule and are recommended. Walk-ins are welcome at Centegra Health Center–Huntley and Centegra Gavers Breast Center–Crystal Lake. Physician orders are needed for a mammogram screening and a bone density exam. Patients should bring a physician order to the appointment. To schedule an appointment, call 815-334-5566 or visit centegra.org/mammo for more details. Financial assistance is also available.

Centegra Health System and the Gavers Community Cancer Foundation partner all year to raise awareness of the importance of early cancer detection. The Get Checked! program provides information on lifestyle changes and guidelines for routine screenings that can make a big difference in one’s life. The Gavers Cancer Resource Library is also featured at Centegra Sage Cancer Center in McHenry and offers touch-screen computers and a library inventory of books, journals and booklets. Information in the library is available in English and Spanish.

Centegra Hospital–McHenry is recognized as having one of a few cancer programs in the state to receive accreditation from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC). This distinction acknowledges the comprehensive, quality cancer services Centegra provides. Additionally, all the Centegra Sage Cancer Center nurses are oncology certified.