I am Mammo Man

Allen W. Jones, MD
Bitterroot Physicians Clinic
A Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital Clinic
1200 Westwood Drive
Hamilton, MT 59840
(406) 363-1100

I am Mammo Man
Yes, I am Mammo Man; or, I am one of the Mammo Man contestants who are dressing as super heroes and putting themselves out there in the community to raise awareness of breast cancer as part of the Sprinkle Pink Celebration. Again this year we will be working with Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital, local merchants and civic and health organizations to raise money to donate to the Aid for Mammography Fund. Together, last year we raised $44,290.35 and with Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital's match, the grand total was $88,580.70. These funds are used to pay for mammograms and other necessary breast procedures for those in need. This fund stays local and serves Ravalli County residents.

Aid for Mammography FundOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is the time when we remind women to be screened for breast cancer. Early detection means early treatment and saving of lives.

The American Cancer Society estimates that this year alone, 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed and 40,290 deaths will be attributed to breast cancer. In Montana alone it is estimated that there will be 2,020 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed and 130 breast cancer deaths this year. Breast cancer makes up 29 % of all cancer cases detected in women.

Breast cancer death rates changed little between 1930 and 1985 but decreased 35% from 1989 to 2011. Better technology and equipment, increased screening and awareness, and more effective treatments have led to improved survival.

In clinical trials, Breast Self Exam (BSE) alone was not found to help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer, and is not recommended for breast cancer screening. Breast changes can occur from pregnancy, menopause, birth control and hormones, along with aging and breast changes in the menstrual cycle making BSE unreliable in cancer detection.

Mammograms are X-rays of the breast which can detect breast cancers that are not able to be palpated. They can detect small amounts of calcium called micro calcifications which sometimes can indicate very early cancer developing. Studies show that mammograms reduce breast cancer deaths when used to screen women 40- 74 years of age, especially in the over 50 age group. Studies have not shown benefits in mammography screening in women under age 40.

Not everyone has the luxury of being able to afford mammograms. Delaying this life saving screening procedure can surely cost women their lives. Fortunately, this community comes together each year to fundraise so that no woman will be denied access to a mammogram based on inability to pay for it. I am proud to be part of this event. As a physician, breast cancer is personal to me. I have diagnosed and treated too many women with breast cancer since beginning my practice in Ravalli County almost 22 months ago. It's time we get a handle on this disease and beat it through early, effective mammography screening.

During the Sprinkle Pink event, it can seem that we are celebrating saving breasts with such humorous and catchy slogans as, "Save Second Base." However, let us never forget that it is really about saving women's lives. So, come join me, Mammo Man, in this fundraising celebration and revel in the silliness, so that we can protect and prolong the lives of women in Ravalli County.

To qualify for Aid for Mammography Funds you must be a Ravalli County resident and your gross family income must be equal to or below 200% of the federal poverty level. To apply for services today visit www.mdmh.org/amf.

Questions and or comments regarding this week's health column please contact Allen W. Jones, MD at the Bitterroot Physicians Clinic, a Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital owned clinic, 1200 Westwood Drive, Hamilton, MT 59840. Working together to build a healthier community!


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