EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) - This year, National Mammography Day falls on Friday, Oct. 21.
To raise awareness about the importance of the breast cancer screening, the CEO of the Hospitals of Providence East Tasha Hopper invited ABC-7 anchor Stephanie Valle to document her mammography.
"I was due for a mammogram anyway, and I also wanted to let everyone know the importance of it," Hopper said.
Hopper prepared for the mammogram in the small screening room. Only Valle, her camera, and the nurse were in the room as Hopper went through the procedure.
"We recommend screenings starting at age 40," said radiologist Dr. Raul Loya. "Or, if you have a family history of breast cancer, we recommend 10 years before your family member was diagnosed."
"My grandmother- my dad's mom- did have ovarian cancer and passed away, so I know that automatically increases my likelihood of having some type of female hormonal-related cancer," Hopper said. "[During] my last mammogram, they did find something suspicious. And then I had to go back and get another mammogram and then a sonogram. And then they decided they wanted to do a stereotopic biopsy.
"I did that, it all came back good, so no issues there," Hopper added.
Dr. Loya explained what the mammogram can detect.
"The three main things we look for are calcifications in certain patterns," he said. "Then we look for architectural distortions, which is basically like a scar in the breast. And lastly, masses that maybe are not palpable by the patient at that time."
Hopper said she wanted women to not be embarrassed during the mammogram.
"It's a second of exposure," she said. "And it's all females working here, and they're professional. They know what they're doing. ... Nothing fazes them."
Both Hopper and Loya addressed the fear many women have of experiencing pain while the breast is undergoing compression.
"It's a little bit of pressure," Hopper said. "Besides that, it's worth it to find out that you're okay, or you need some help."
"Women may be hesitant to do it," Loya said, adding, "But it is very important for us, for our screening program, to detect cancer as early as possible."
To those women who think their odds of developing breast cancer are low because they don't have risk factors in their medical history, Hopper added this anecdote:
"I actually have two young friends who didn't fall into the bucket at all. They would have assumed they wouldn't even have breast cancer," she said. "They both had a very aggressive type of breast cancer where five years ago they probably wouldn't have survived. But they both have a clean bill of health and [are] in remission because they caught it very early."
Patients do not need a doctor's referral for a mammogram.
The Hospitals of Providence allows patients to make an appointment online, or call to schedule an appointment: (855) 709-2110.
University Medical Center of El Paso performs mammograms as well, and appointments can be made online or by phone.
Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare provides breast care services, and appointments can be made by phone or online.
Desert Imaging of El Paso mammography appointments can be made online or by phone.