NEW BERN, CRAVEN COUNTY -

(Note from NewsChannel 12 anchor Jaime McCutcheon: When my mother died from cancer four years ago, I told myself I'd use every opportunity I had to raise cancer awareness.  Now I'm sharing my story to do just that.)

ABC News anchor Amy Robach recently shared her breast cancer diagnosis, cancer found when she had her first mammogram live on air.  It hit one NewsChannel 12 anchor pretty hard because at the time, she was going through her own breast cancer worries.

On the same day as her annual exam with her doctor, anchor Jaime McCutcheon recorded these words, "so it's October 24th, and I go this morning to get my annual exam like I do every year with my doctor, and during the exam she tells me there's a lump in my breast.  It's right here in black and white, it says 5mm sized lump in the right breast."

It's news no woman wants to hear, a lump in her breast.  But if there is good news, it's that of the thousands of women screened for breast cancer each year, 90-percent of lumps are found to be non-cancerous.  That's according to the American Cancer Society.

But a family history of cancer made Jaime cautious.  Her grandmother fought and lost to kidney cancer, and her mother was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Ovarian Cancer and Breast Cancer all before the age of 50.
     
Jaime says, "ever since then, I've kind of had this ticking time bomb in my head that it could happen to me.  If it could happen to her {my mother}, then it could happen to me."

Dr. Chris Taylor, an Oncologist at the New Bern Cancer Center, says family history is important to know.  "If you have a family history of cancer, that could increase your cancer risks, so that something you should know about and discuss with your doctor," says Dr. Taylor.

After 11 days of waiting to find out her diagnosis, Jaime received her diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound.

"So were looking for asymmetry.  We're looking for any architectural distortion.  We're also looking for calcifications," describes radiologist Dr. Tim Sloan with CCHC Imaging Center.

But reading Jaime's mammogram results, Dr. Sloan finds none of these things.  The same when it comes to Jaime's breast ultrasound - no sign of cancer.

Dr. Sloan says he reads, "50 to 75 mammograms a day, and most days, they're all normal."  But Dr. Sloan reminds us that 10-percent of breast cancers are missed by mammograms, making self exams and annual doctor exams important.  And when it comes to women who have dense breasts, cancer is harder to spot on the traditional 2-D mammograms.

"With conventional mammography, it's like I'm standing on the edge of the orchard and I'm looking through all the trees, trying to pick out the red bird in the tree."  That's where the new technology of 3-D mammography comes in, visually walking the radiologist through the breast.
     
"I can actually move through the breast from right to left and top to bottom," explains Dr. Sloan.  Going back to the orchard analogy, 3-D mammography lets radiologists walk through the orchard to find the red bird, or cancer, instead of standing on the outskirts and trying to spot it.

"There is a clear benefit for patients with dense breasts for 3-D mammography," says Dr. Sloan.
     
When it comes to cancer, early detection is one key to surviving.  This year, almost 300,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and almost 40,000 will die from it, according to The American Cancer Society.
     
But in the battle against breast cancer, the tools for detection are growing.  "We are getting better with our screening techniques with mammography, there's now 3-D mammography available, we know how to better utilize MRI for groups that are even higher risk," says Dr. Chris Taylor.

But the story doesn't end here for NewsChannel 12 anchor Jaime McCutcheon.  Even with a non-cancerous diagnosis this time, with her family history of cancer, her doctor recommends she looks into getting tested for certain gene mutations that show if she could have a higher cancer risk.
     
Jaime will walk you through what it takes to get that done and who should look into it coming up Tuesday on NewsChannel 12 at 5:30.