Many people have been affected by breast cancer, whether the diagnosis is for themselves, a family member, or a friend. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Hamilton Medical Center is supporting breast cancer awareness.
“It’s very important to have your yearly screening mammogram, says Eric Turner, MD, Peeples Cancer Institute medical director. “Catching cancers early and starting treatment quickly provides the best possible outcomes.”
Mammograms are recommended yearly beginning at age 40 and are covered by most health insurance programs.
Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women. About 10 percent of all new cases of breast cancer in the United States are found in women younger than 45 years of age.
But it’s not just women who can get breast cancer. Though it is much more common in women, some men are diagnosed with the disease. Less than 1 percent of breast cancers occur in men.
It is important to be aware of the risk factors for breast cancer so the proper screenings can be performed. You should talk with your doctor about your risk factors and any concerns that you may have.
Common risk factors include genetic mutations to certain genes (such as BRCA1 and BRCA2), early menstrual period (starting before age 12), late or no pregnancy (first pregnancy after age 30 and never having a full-term pregnancy), starting menopause after age 55, not being physically active, being overweight after menopause, personal and family history of breast cancer, taking birth control pills and heavy alcohol use.
Some factors can’t be changed, but there are things you can do to lower your risk. Exercising regularly (at least four hours a week) and maintaining a healthy weight can make a big difference. Research shows getting plenty of nighttime sleep, eating healthfully, limiting alcohol and avoiding exposure to carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals) decreases your chances for breast cancer. Also, breastfeeding your children, if possible, has been shown to reduce risk. And, of course, regular breast self-exams and scheduled mammograms are key in early detection.
Eric Manahan, MD, a surgeon with Hamilton Physician Group who has a special interest in breast cancer, says that when someone gets a breast cancer diagnosis, the best thing to do is to stop and take a breath. “This is not a surgical emergency to rush,” he says. “We need to be able to make the best decision on your particular treatment option. Breast cancer care is evolving and improving at a very fast rate. Let’s make sure we have all of the information and are ready to proceed in your best interests for your particular tumor with the latest and most up-to-date treatment options.”
3D mammography is available at Peeples Cancer Institute (PCI). This advanced technology finds 41 percent more invasive cancers than 2D alone. Without using more radiation, the process involves multiple images, allowing a clearer picture for radiologists. 3D mammography can help find cancer in earlier stages, and it reduces the chances of being called back for additional screenings and biopsies.
To schedule a screening mammogram at PCI, please call 706-272-6565. A doctor’s order is necessary.