October is especially busy for radiologist Sheryl Siegmund-Weekly.
"Anything we can do to get the screening process started is always helpful," she said.
Sanford Aberdeen Medical Center is also trying to make it easier for women to get mammograms by offering a weekend clinic Oct. 27.
Sanford, which opened the doors of its new hospital in the third week of June, has offered mammographies at the Sanford Aberdeen Clinic since 2007, but with the opening of the hospital, Sanford upgraded its previous mammogram machine.
Compared to the previous unit, Sanford's new mammography machine offers a better quality image, said Katie Liedel, account manager with Hologic, the company that manufactures the machine.
In addition, the unit has the capacity to offer 3-D mammography exams if Sanford chooses to in the future, Liedel said.
Sanford Aberdeen doesn't offer the 3-D mammogram yet, and Bob Hagen, director of imaging and radiology for Sanford Medical Center, said the hospital will determine when the time is right.
The machine also has ergonomic paddles that make mammograms more comfortable, Liedel said.
"If they've had a mammogram at Sanford Aberdeen in the past, they may very well find it is a more comfortable mammogram," she said.
St. Luke's has offered mammography services since the technology was first introduced in the 1970s, said Lee Ann Tople, director of diagnostics and therapeutic services.
The hospital uses the GE Senographe Essential, which produces one of the lowest radiation doses of a mammography machine, she said.
"Annually, we're surveyed by the state Department of Health, and when he comes in, he measures the radiation output of the mammography unit," she said. "And he's impressed that the dose that's coming through the machine is the lowest he's seen in the state."
St. Luke's offers a double reading of mammograms where two radiologists look at each image, Tople said.
"I think it really proves our accuracy because (the two doctors) either agree or disagree," Siegmund-Weekly said. "To have two sets of eyes looking at each (image) is an advantage."
A mammogram detects tumors or microcalcifications, either of which can be a sign of breast cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. If something abnormal is detected, a biopsy is performed to see if it is cancerous.
At St. Luke's, if needed, a stereotactic biopsy is performed to determine if there is cancer.
The stereotactic form of a biopsy is a less invasive procedure that takes about an hour, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. The procedure involves the patient lying awake, facedown on a table while her breast is held down. A small incision is made over the breast, and a needle is guided to the location to collect tissue samples. St. Luke's also offers other types of biopsies for breast cancer.
Sanford's program offers an ultrasound biopsy procedure. The procedure involves the patient lying face up while the doctor makes an incision on the breast and uses an ultrasound machine to guide the needle over the area that needs to be biopsied, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
• At Sanford Aberdeen Medical Center, call 605-626-4350 to make an appointment from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Fridays and 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursdays. Sanford will also have a weekend clinic from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 27 by appointment only.
• At Avera St. Luke's, call 605-622-5556 to make an appointment from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.