Mammographer Urges Annual Screenings Following Her Experience with Breast Cancer

Mammographer Urges Annual Screenings Following Her Experience with Breast Cancer

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Laura Stottlemyer knows that mammograms aren’t popular. As a mammography technologist at MedStar Breast Health & Imaging Center at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, she also knows that many women may delay the screening because they feel they’re not at risk of getting the disease, especially if they’re young. Laura was one of those women—until she was diagnosed at the age of 32.

“I not only understand breast cancer from a professional perspective,” Laura says. “I’ve lived it.”

Laura was a healthy and busy working mother who had no family history of breast cancer when she felt pain in her right breast in 2007.

“It was a very specific pain,” she says. “I could literally put my finger on it.”

Laura performed self-exams regularly but says the sharp pain was her body’s way of telling her to pay closer attention to that specific area of her breast.

After her diagnosis, Laura underwent a lumpectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiation. Cancer-free for 13 years, Laura often shares her story with her patients.

“A lot of patients tell me, ‘I’m not concerned because I don’t have a family history,’” she says. “While family history can play a huge part, it’s not the main contributor, as 75% of those diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history.”

The American Cancer Society recommends that women have the choice to start annual breast cancer screenings at 40 and that all women should receive annual mammograms starting at 45.

“Early detection is key because if breast cancer is caught early enough, we see a 99% treatment success rate,” Laura explains. “As a mammographer, I know that if we don’t get it right for the radiologist, then they can’t diagnose it. That’s a huge responsibility, so being able to get the best exam possible is something I take a great deal of pride in.”

“I know no one likes mammograms,” Laura laughs. “But I try to make it as comfortable an experience as I can.”

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