October is breast cancer awareness month and Comanche County Memorial Hospital, is the only hospital to offer the fastest testing for breast cancer in southwest Oklahoma.

In the past when a patient had a mammogram and a lump was found, the tissue taken from the biopsy would be sent out of state for pathologists to examine. That could take up to a week. But if the patient needed additional testing, it could take longer.

“Now that we offer this testing on site, the patients can have the diagnosis of cancer within 24 hours,” Dr. Carol Dittmann, Chief of Pathology said.

It’s a staining protocol and slide scanner that allows pathologists to evaluate breast cancer on an objective level.

“We tell the oncologists how aggressive we believe the tumor may be,” Dr. Dittmann said. “Will it be slow growing? Will it be fast growing? The size of the tumor. Has it already invaded into other spaces or not.”

Dr. Carol Dittmann is the Chief of Pathology at Comanche County Memorial Hospital. She says decreasing the time they inform the patient of a diagnosis of cancer is crucial.

“From the point the patient has an abnormal mammogram to the point of seeing the oncologist and making treatment plans and decisions, we aim for that to be less than a week,” Dr. Dittmann said. “With this new technology in house, we are able to achieve that.”

The speed of diagnosis may not make a big difference for the eventual outcome for the patient, Dr. Dittmann says. But it does matter to that patient to have their information as fast as possible.

“To know that the breast cancer team is working together to move things forward as quickly as possible for them and to alleviate some of the stress on them and their family,” Dr. Dittmann said.

Dr. Dittmann wants to remind people that breast cancer can happen to both men and women, and that this new technology can help everyone in the community. She says to keep up with your yearly mammograms and to get checked out if you feel a lump in your breasts.

To schedule an appointment to get a mammogram, you can call the McMahon Center for Breast Health at 580-250-5856.