Awareness is key in fighting breast cancer

Breast cancer awareness is usually in the local and national spotlight during the month of October to increase education around the disease, encourage women to get their annual mammogram and to offer support to the over three million breast cancer survivors in the United States.  

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers. About one in eight (12%) women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. It is sometimes found after symptoms appear, but many women with breast cancer have no symptoms. This is why regular breast cancer screening mammograms are so important.

 In addition to regular screenings, technologies have advanced in recent years to offer even better images of the breast tissue through 3D mammography to spot lumps, tumors or other abnormalities.

 On average 3D mammograms have the ability to detect 40 percent more cancers than 2D mammograms by providing a clearer picture to the reading radiologists. 3D mammography produces many X-ray images of the breasts from multiple angles to create a digital 3-dimensional rendering of internal breast tissue. This allows radiologists to view the breast in 1-millimeter ‘slices’ rather than just the full thickness from the top and from the side.

3D mammograms can also take less time, with a rapid scan time of under four seconds total, which helps to improve patient comfort and lessens the risk of motion. 

St. Elizabeth’s has 3D mammography at all three of their imaging locations for easy access and scheduling. Locations include the Women’s Imaging Center at the main hospital, imaging services at the O’Fallon Medical Building located at 1512 N. Green Mount Rd. in O’Fallon, and at the recently renovated HSHS Imaging Center-Belleville at 180 S. Third St., Suite 101 in Belleville. 

The public is reminded that Illinois legislation passed Senate Bill 466 in to law in 2016, which requires that all insurance plans throughout the state cover 3D mammography. If a person’s individual insurance plan states differently, patients are encouraged to contact their plan administrator. 

Women should remember that early detection is your best defense. Perform your breast self-exam at the same time each month and know your body; know what is normal for you, and always talk to your physician if you feel an abnormality.

To schedule an annual screening mammogram, call St. Elizabeth’s scheduling department at (618) 234-4639. A physician’s order is not required.


Women age 40 and over are encouraged to learn about their risks now and make an appointment to be screened today. Women can answer nine assessment questions to know their risk of breast cancer:

  1. Do you have a family history of breast cancer?
  2. Do you have a personal history of breast cancer?
  3. Did your period begin before age 12?
  4. Have you gone through menopause?
  5. Are you overweight?
  6. Do you drink alcohol every day?
  7. Have you never had children, or did you have your first child after age 30?
  8. Do you have excess fat around your waist?
  9. Have you ever taken hormone replacement therapy?

If the answer is YES to any of these questions, results indicate an increased risk of breast cancer. The more YES responses, the greater the risk. Women are encouraged to talk to their doctor about breast cancer risks at their next appointment.