Screening is best way to find breast cancer early
Posted: Wednesday, October 6, 2010 8:01 pm
NASHVILLE — As National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October is dedicated to educating people about the disease and urging women to get screened. According to the National Cancer Institute, 209,060 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2010, resulting in 40,230 deaths. One in eight women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime.
The best way to reduce the risk of breast cancer is to get regular screening mammograms. The American Cancer Society (ACS) suggests women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.
While the United States Preventive Services Task Force recently came out with new guidelines stating women should begin getting regular screening mammograms every two years when they turn 50, the Centers for Breast Health at Baptist Hospital, Saint Thomas Hospital and Middle Tennessee Medical Center advise patients to follow the ACS guidelines.
“Last year at our centers, we cared for more than 900 women with breast cancer and approximately 25 percent of them were between 20 and 49 years old. So we urge women to conduct breast self-exams beginning in their 20s and to get a screening mammogram every year beginning at age 40 or sooner if they have a family history,” said Dr. Laura Lawson, co-medical director of the Saint Thomas Health Services Breast Cancer Program and a breast surgeon with Tennessee Breast Specialists and Baptist Hospital in Nashville. “Getting screened annually is the best way to find breast cancer before it starts to spread. It can save your life.”
The Centers for Breast Health at Baptist Hospital, Saint Thomas Hospital and Middle Tennessee Medical Center also advise women to lower their risk of breast cancer by controlling weight, exercising and limiting alcohol intake. If breast cancer runs in your family, ask your doctor what your risk of getting breast cancer is and how you can lower it.
“Keeping our patients healthy is our No. 1 priority,” said Dr. Lawson. “Staying active, knowledgeable and in touch with your body and getting annual mammograms, yearly check-ups with your doctor and a clinical breast exam are the best ways to help us do this.”
General breast health is important and women should stay in touch with their bodies and report any of the following symptoms to a physician or breast health specialist:
• New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit).
• Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
• Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
• Persistent redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
• Pulling in of the nipple that is persistent and can’t be reversed with gentle pressure.
• Pain in the breast or nipple area not related to menstruation or hormone changes and is persistent.
• Unexpected nipple discharge, other than breast milk, or blood that happens more than once
• Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
Published in The Messenger 10.06.10