What patients need to know about advances in breast cancer screenings

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Breast Cancer Awareness Month appears to be living up to its title. Prevea Health says 30 percent more breast cancers are diagnosed in Northeast Wisconsin in the month of October than other times of the year.

18236531 - doctor assisting patient undergoing mammogram

Advancing technology helps. It also comes with false positives.

Women age 40 and older are encouraged to visit a doctor each year for a mammogram. Prevea breast surgeon Dr. Colette Salm-Schmid sees it making a difference.

"In the past, the majority of women were diagnosed with breast cancer on breast cancer they found with their own lump, but now that screening mammogram has increased so much, it's almost equal," says Dr. Salm-Schmid.

There are more options for patients, including 3-D mammography. Insurance companies are starting to offer coverage of these advanced tests.

Dr. Salm-Schmid says images from all breast scans have improved greatly over the past five years.

"It's like if you think about your Polaroid camera versus your now new iPhone 11 camera, it's beautiful and you can see all those details," says Dr. Salm-Schmid. "And the same thing has happened with mammography today."

That leads to earlier detection. Some patients will not have to undergo chemotherapy.

The highly detailed images can also find something that looks suspicious, but isn't serious. That must be determined through more scans and appointments.

"The waiting is the hardest part. The waiting is the hardest, either waiting for the next imaging study or the waiting to get the pathology or the waiting to get to a surgeon," says Dr. Salm-Schmid.

The doctor says the Prevea Breast Center has created a road map to detail each patient's journey and to answer questions and try to ease anxiety.

"If we can decrease that with navigation or decrease that with information, both of those things I think really help," says Dr. Salm-Schmid.

Read the original version of this article at www.wbay.com.