1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer

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CUSTER, S.D. -

With October declared National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, women across the country are encouraged to get their mammograms.

According to BreastCancer.org, around 12 percent of women will develop invasive breast cancer in the course of their lifetime. The American Cancer Society says that at age 40, women should start considering mammograms. And at 45 years old, women should begin getting tested annually.

Becca Steadman, a registered radiologic technologist at Regional Health Custer Hospital, says that it’s never a bad idea to check with your own family doctor beforehand.

“I always tell my patients when they come in, to talk to their physician because they know them better - they know their family history - if they’re on hormones, different things like that,” Steadman says. “My biggest thing again - if you get that mammogram right away and they catch the cancer, it can be cured."

The Regional Health Custer Hospital began performing mammograms in April of 2016 and Steadman says that numbers have been looking good.

“We’ve nearly done about 800, which has really been a great turnout,” she says. “Our first year, our goal was around 300, and we definitely were over our goal. [The] biggest thing we’ve been trying to do is to raise awareness with our run/walk that we’re doing.”

On Sept. 30, a “Mammo or Bust” 5K and 10K race will take place on the Mickleson Trail. All funds generated will go toward the hospital’s breast screening facilities.

The hospital has also been trying to raise awareness in rural communities, encouraging women to visit Custer or other facilities. According to the Rural Health Research and Policy Centers, women in rural areas are slightly less likely to receive mammograms.

For women who can’t afford mammograms, a state program can help women get screenings. But Joni Hill, the imaging supervisor for Regional Health Custer Hospital, says that so far, only six women have taken advantage of the program.

“The All Women Count Program is a state program for underinsured or uninsured women who can’t afford to get breast screenings,” Hill says. “The state pays for it, and we really want to get the word out  to those women who aren’t getting mammograms because they can’t afford it. They should just go to the website or give us a call. And the state wants to help them out. That program has been up and running for about 7 years.”

Within the next year, Hill hopes to quadruple the number of women who take advantage of the program.

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