Research has shown that screening mammography can help reduce the number of breast cancer-related deaths among women ages 40 to 74, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Hattiesburg Clinic observes Breast Cancer Awareness Month every October with its annual “Pink the Tree” tradition to bring awareness to screening mammography.
Each October, a memory tree is set up in the Surgery department, located on the second floor of the main clinic, and an awareness tree goes up in the lobby of 28th Place. Employees and patients have the option to purchase pink ornaments in honor or memory of a breast cancer patient to place on the memory tree. These can be purchased from the Surgery receptionists for $1.
Employees are also encouraged to place a pink ornament on the tree at 28th Place. Departments are able to show their support for breast cancer awareness by decorating their department in pink, wearing pink or having breast cancer information available for patients.
“We don’t put up the trees or decorate in pink just because it’s pretty. All of this is for a purpose,” said Susan Yarrow, public relations manager at Hattiesburg Clinic. “The goal is that people see the trees, the decorations, the pink that we wear as a reminder of the importance of mammograms and how they can potentially be life-saving.”
Yarrow reaffirmed this fact with statistics from a women’s symposium Hattiesburg Clinic participated in earlier this year. About 264 women visited the clinic’s booth at the symposium and 100 of them were identified as patients. Out of the 100 patients, 16 scheduled and completed screening mammography after they attended the symposium. Two of the 16 who had mammograms went on for additional breast imaging and were diagnosed with breast cancer.
“The goal is to catch it early so that treatment can begin sooner rather than later,” said William Whitehead, MD, Hattiesburg Clinic surgeon and medical director for The Breast Center. “Every case is different, but we hope that people will become more self-aware not only by talking with their doctor or scheduling a mammogram but also by routinely examining themselves.”
The American Cancer Society says women 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast screening with mammograms if they wish to do so. The society recommends a mammogram once a year for women ages 45 to 54. Women 55 and older can switch to mammograms every two years or continue annual screening.
Appointments are available at The Breast Center Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Individuals should contact their primary care provider to schedule an appointment.