OGDEN -- Utah women lag behind the rest of the nation when it comes to screening for breast cancer.
Utah ranks third-worst nationally when it comes to getting a mammogram.
McKay-Dee Hospital officials want to see that statistic change, so the hospital has extended its hours to make it more convenient for women who say they simply don't have time to be tested.
Women can now make an appointment to get a mammogram until 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Appointments will also be scheduled from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on alternate Saturdays.
Christi Layton, women's imaging manager at McKay-Dee, said Utah, Idaho and Montana have the lowest screening rates in the United States.
"So we asked ourselves why," she said. "One reason discussed right away was the convenience of our appointments and if evening and weekend appointments might be beneficial for women, whether they work at home or in the business world."
According to the Utah Department of Health, 67 percent of Utah women reported receiving a mammogram within the last two years.
Some of the reasons women report not getting a mammogram are that they do not believe the tests are needed, they can't afford one, they don't have enough time, they're afraid it will hurt, they don't want to know if they have breast cancer, they don't think they're at risk, it wasn't recommended by their physician or they are afraid or embarrassed, said Sylinda Lee, media coordinator for the Utah Department of Health's cancer-prevention and -control program.
"Regular mammograms beginning at age 40 are the best method for detecting cancer early, in its most treatable state. When detected at an early, localized stage, breast cancer is 99 percent curable," she said.
All women are at risk for breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology, and although family history can increase the chances of being diagnosed, nearly 80 percent of women with breast cancer have no family history at all.
"Breast cancer typically produces no symptoms when the tumor is small and most treatable," Layton said.
"When breast cancer has grown to a size that can be felt, the most common physical sign is a painless lump."
Sometimes breast cancer can spread to underarm lymph nodes and cause a lump or swelling, even before the original tumor is large enough to be felt, Layton said.
Less common symptoms include breast pain or heaviness; persistent changes to the breast, such as swelling, thickening or redness of the skin; and nipple abnormalities, such as spontaneous discharge, erosion, inversion or tenderness.
Pain or lack of pain does not indicate the presence or absence of breast cancer, Layton said.
"I want women to know that mammographers are passionate about what they do. Mammo techs feel they are making a difference in women's lives because of the mammograms they perform," she said.
"We have been thanked for saving patients' lives. ...We all have a mother, sister, a best friend that we want around for a long time."
The state health department has also launched a Just Go campaign that offers no-cost and low-cost screenings to women who qualify.
For more information, call 800-717-1811 or visit www.cancerutah.org.