By: Joann Shin
(KHNL) - Lois Yamamoto-Purdy was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2003.
"I was counting on my mammograms to be the test to be the detecting factor. I was surprised," said Yamamato-Purdy.
She discovered a lump after showering.
By then it was quite large, about an inch across.
She was shocked because she had a mammogram seven months before.
"Okay this is why they talk about the monthly breast exams how important that it. I'm encouraged by the continued research and advancements of treatment," Yamamoto-Purdy said.
It's a feeling shared by Dr. Ginny Pressler, a former surgeon who specialized in breast cancer.
"We have many exciting strides with breast cancer mostly due to research," Dr. Pressler said.
Pressler says research has led to improvements in treatment, including one called mammosite.
"You do radiation just where the tumor removed from breast instead of entire breast," explained Dr. Pressler. She added, "Instead of 6 weeks of radiation it's 5 days."
Although a lot has changed, mammograms continue to play a big role in early detection.
"Makes a major difference, we're talking about 98 percent long term survival."
As for Yamamoto-Purdy, she started treatment right away.
She underwent a mastectomy and three years of chemotherapy .
She's been in remission for three years.