Hospital encourages women to schedule mammograms

DeKALB – A new clinical study will be launched in DeKalb as part of Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital’s efforts to address the decline in screening mammograms that was experienced during the pandemic.

The study will examine how education influences women to schedule their mammograms, with a 10% increase in mammograms as the set goal. The results will be published in a medical journal to help other organizations better serve their communities.

Women age 40 and older are encouraged to resume their annual screening mammograms to detect breast cancer in its earliest, most-treatable stages, said Kim Aldis, breast health navigator. Aldis and her colleagues will partner with primary care physicians and collaborate with community organizations to educate women about the importance of mammograms.

“The world seemed to stop when the pandemic began, but breast cancer continued,” Aldis said in a news release. “Mammography is a time-sensitive screening, and even a pause in screening by a few months will result in a delay of cancer detection for some women. Early detection saves lives.”

Dr. Nitzet Velez, medical director of the Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital Breast Health Center, said the benefits of mammograms outweigh the risks of acquiring COVID-19 during the screenings.

“Our hospital environment is a safe place for women to receive mammograms and for patients to receive care,” Velez said in the release. “We have taken every precaution to protect our patients and staff from COVID-19, and we want women to start being proactive about their health care again.”

Dr. Michael Hutchinson, a radiologist at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital, recommends that women have a conversation with their primary care physician or gynecologist about screening mammogram recommendations.

“Women who still have questions should talk to a trusted physician about what is best for them,” Hutchinson said in the release. “The physician will help the patient weigh any lingering pandemic-related concerns with the risks of late-stage cancer diagnosis. The later the diagnosis, the more intense the treatment will be. We want patients to receive the care they need as quickly as possible.”

Women can schedule mammograms at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital by calling 815-748-2975. The Women Matter Screening Program is also available to help patients who do not have health insurance.

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