One reporter’s assignment to take a closer look into how mammograms work turned into a very personal message about the importance of getting screened for breast cancer.
When Salt Lake City’s anchor and reporter Mary Nickles’s initial report aired that showed her getting a mammogram, it did not allude to anything abnormal in her tests. But Nickles later revealed in her blog that the tests actually detected a small tumor in her left breast.
According to her doctors, Nickles was diagnosed with an infiltrating ductal carcinoma, which means that the cancer has broken through the milk duct and has begun to spread among the breast tissue.
More than 180,000 women are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer each year, according to the American Cancer Society. Infiltrating ductal carcinoma is considered one of the most common types of invasive breast cancer.
“I haven’t cried as much as I thought I would,” Nickles wrote in her blog.
Nickles announced her diagnosis on her Facebook wall January 5, and told her followers that she had already undergone a lumpectomy and plans to soon begin chemotherapy and radiation.
“I’m sharing to encourage more of you to get your screenings!” Nickles wrote on her Facebook wall.
Women ages 50 to 74 should get a mammogram once every two years, according to the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force.
Still, some medical centers, including Johns Hopkins, advise women to begin screening at age 40 and follow up annually.
“I hope that this experience shows women actually the value of routine screening,” said Lillie Shockney, administrative director at Johns Hopkins Breast Clinical Programs.
While some experts say that mammograms may expose women to unnecessary radiation levels, studies suggest the radiation dose is low.