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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: early detection saves lives

Dr. Carlson Practices What She Preaches

3D Mammography Coming to Curry Medical Center in 2022

“photoDo as I say. And as I do.

Words of wisdom for women when it comes to annual mammograms, according to Dr. Jessica Carlson, a general surgeon with Curry Health Network - and a breast cancer survivor.

The American Cancer Society recommends that women begin annual mammograms at the age of 40; Carlson, 40, who has a family history of breast cancer, says that her very first screening earlier this year picked up the abnormality in her breast.

"I decided I should practice what I preach," Carlson, who is now cancer-free, says about her decision to get her first mammogram. "The most important thing [about mammography] is early detection, and that was definitely true in my case."

Annual mammograms, in addition to regular self-exams, are key to catching breast cancer early. Carlson notes many women put off mammograms because they're afraid the screening will be painful or awkward; instead, she encourages women to keep up with mammograms - and to encourage one another to do so.

Carlson admits that even her friends have asked if a mammogram at 40 is necessary, but she says her reply to such questions is immediate: "I said 'Get it done.' If I had waited a couple of years, I could have had a lot different outcome."

Carlson opted for a 3D mammogram, which meant an hour-and-a-half drive to Coos Bay; however, 3D mammography will soon be available at Curry Medical Center in Brookings in 2022, thanks in part to funding raised through the Curry Health Foundation's first annual Golf FORE Health outing this August.

3D mammography combines multiple breast X-rays to create a three-dimensional picture of the breast that allows for detecting more cancers than a standard mammogram alone and improves cancer detection in dense breast tissue.

"It's so important to have the best imaging quality available to our community," says Carlson. "Having 3D mammography in this community is going to be amazing - it's always been a goal for Curry Health Network. We want to provide the best quality of care possible."