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Commentary: Help Fight Breast Cancer

— Pam Baker’s attention to detail saves lives. As a nurse and quality consultant here at Inova Alexandria Hospital, Pam diligently ensures our staff follow evidence-based guidelines and practices that promote the best outcomes for our patients. She also practices what she preaches: Pam follows guidelines from the American Cancer Society, which recommend that women over 40 get a mammogram every year. Eight years ago, her annual mammogram detected a lump in one of her breasts.

“I wasn’t worried about dying of breast cancer. [The lump] was small. Because of my yearly exams, I knew it wasn’t there the year before,” Baker said. Fortunately, her mammogram flagged her breast cancer at an early stage. Baker underwent a mastectomy and hormone treatment at Inova Alexandria Hospital. Today, she’s a survivor.

At Inova Alexandria Hospital, we are committed to providing the highest quality care to help those facing a breast cancer diagnosis. Our Inova Breast Care Institute provides a comprehensive, nationally recognized network of breast care specialists at all five Inova hospitals to help educate and guide you from diagnosis through recovery. We participate in world-class clinical trials and offer the latest technology in the fight against breast cancer.

In fact, this fall we will begin offering the newest technology in breast imaging at our Inova Imaging Center at Mark Center. Known as breast tomosynthesis, the 3-D mammography technology been shown in clinical studies to be superior to conventional digital 2-D mammography. The technology uses high-powered computing to convert digital breast images into a stack of thin layers or “slices” of the breast. This allows the radiologist to view breast tissue detail in a way that was never before possible. When used together with 2-D imaging, breast tomosynthesis has proved to reduce unnecessary call backs for an additional mammogram. And, all of our patients undergoing mammograms at the Inova Imaging Center – Mark Center enjoy the added benefit of receiving same-day results, without the wait. That’s a benefit we started offering two years ago and will continue offering with this new technology.

Having regular mammograms, like Pam, can detect breast cancer at its earliest, most treatable stages. In gratitude for the second chance her mammogram gave her, she now participates in the City of Alexandria’s Annual Walk to Fight Breast Cancer. Proceeds from the Walk benefit the Alexandria Breast Cancer Walk Fund here at Inova Alexandria Hospital. The fund helps us provide free mammograms to uninsured residents of the City of Alexandria. Since the Walk’s beginning in 1994, those donations have helped us screen more than 7,000 patients.

Donations to funds like the Alexandria Walk are more important than ever: Within the metro region, the City of Alexandria has the third highest percentage of uninsured individuals under age 65 and below 138 percent of poverty, according to the Regional Primary Care Coalition. For these residents who are just scraping by, an annual mammogram doesn’t rank high on their financial to-do list.

You can help. Sign up for this year’s Alexandria Walk to Fight Breast Cancer to be held on Saturday, Oct. 26 in its new location at the Patent and Trademark office. Last year’s walk raised over $90,000. Help us do it again. Just two hours of your time that morning could mean a lifetime for one of your neighbors in need. Learn more at https://www.alexandriava.gov/TheWalk. To schedule a mammogram, contact Inova Imaging Center – Mark Center at 571-423-5400.