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Physicians and Advocates discuss new tech and importance of mammograms

Story originally aired on Oct. 30 at the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Posted at 12:18 PM, Nov 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-07 17:42:09-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – October is just about to end as is Breast Cancer Awareness month. And getting a mammogram, it can be a life-saving exam.

A relatively new technology is helping radiologists like Doctor Jane Conlin detect breast cancer better, 3D mammography.

"It just gives like magnificent detail, and we can find breast cancers earlier and smaller that are otherwise hard to see,” Conlin, a Diagnostic Radiologist at Sharp Rees Stealy, said.

The technology has helped women like Merrilee Neal.

"I feel very fortunate that, during this time period when there were changes in my body and 3D mammograms were available, that I had access to them,” Neal said.

Neal is a nine-year breast cancer survivor. She said the technology allows her to stay ahead in her fight against it.

"But, to me, taking the precautions and doing these diagnostics are fair less scary of being able to adapt to what we need to do for our health,” Neal said.

There are some women who may not know that this type of exam is available to them. Dr. Conlin told ABC 10News that could be in part to the ever-changing landscape of technology among other things.

"Honestly, I think that people are always a little bit afraid to come in for a mammogram. And so, when they hear that it's time for a mammogram, they may not be listening or may not catch that there's 3D," Conlin said.

The technology is becoming more common but it’s not in all medical clinics per the Mayo Clinic.

As women head back to the radiologists, there's new waters to navigate, juggling mammograms and vaccinations or booster shots

"Your lymph nodes, we might see them plump up a little bit because they're doing their job,” Conlin said.

“We might catch them on the mammogram - and it's not cancerous - then we'll have to call you back, and we'll have to do some extra pictures and we'll be like oh that's just related to your vaccine."

Regardless of your next exam is a 2D or 3D mammogram, getting a mammogram is something that shouldn't be put off.

Doctor Conlin told ABC 10News that she tells patients to time their vaccination before their mammogram. Patients should get their mammograms about four weeks after their vaccinations, as recommended by Conlin.