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Breast surgeon says women are dying because they're not getting mammograms

By Susan Bahorich, sbahorich@wdbj7.com
Published On: Oct 30 2013 04:03:00 PM EDT
Updated On: Oct 30 2013 06:48:14 PM EDT

October is breast cancer awareness month, but the work for health professionals is year-round.
Even though doctors recommend yearly mammograms, some women are NOT getting them.

SALEM, Va. -

Pam Ogden just celebrated her birthday.
You could call this year exam a present to herself.

"I think one way you remember your mammogram is doing on your birth month," explains the 75-yar-old.

Ogden's healthy, but every year she comes in for a mammogram.

Says Ogden, "I just really believe in screening. I believe in taking care of your body and this is one way you can do it."

But, not everyone is as vigilant.

"We have educated, aware women dying of breast cancer because they didn't take time for themselves," says Dr. Bob Williams.

Williams is a breast surgeon with LewisGale Medical Center.
He says even with Public Service Announcements and education in the community, some women are slipping through the cracks.

"Mammograms are not perfect," he explains, "But, they're the best way to reduce the risk of dying of breast cancer."

Dr. Williams says fear of the unknown may keep some women from getting these tests.

"A woman who gets a mammogram every year after the age of 40 is almost always cured of breast cancer- it doesn't prevent breast cancer by getting a mammogram, it just helps us find it so that it's almost always curable," explains Williams.

For women like Ogden, mammograms are just another way to stay healthy.
And, for those who've never had the test, she has this to say:

"It's not unpleasant. There's some anxiety if you don't know and never done it before."

Dr. Bob says breast cancer is usually curable and it's most curable when it's found early.

He says most insurances cover yearly mammograms 100-percent.

If not, there are organizations that can help you get your mammogram.

What you should know, from the American Cancer Society.

Local resources from Susan G. Komen.