The color pink is everywhere in October — signifying that it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This awareness is for a good cause.
Breast cancer is the No. 1 cancer diagnosed in women.
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.
The best way to beat breast cancer is to be diagnosed early. That’s why it’s necessary to get the screenings and care that help detect the disease early.
“Women who schedule an annual breast exam beginning at age 40 and stick with it consistently have better outcomes,” said Dr. Paul Brock, Harbin Clinic surgeon. “The medical evidence is clear, and what I have witnessed in my own practice supports it. Annual screenings give us a baseline that we can compare future images with. They help detect cancers early, and the earlier we diagnose breast cancer, the better the outcome for the patient.”
Dr. Brock was the visionary for Floyd’s breast program and served as one of the founding physician leaders of The Breast Center at Floyd. He has provided ongoing medical direction for the program since its inception.
The recommendations for breast care can change as you age, but the one rule that always applies, regardless of age, is to be aware of your own body. If you notice a change or if you have specific concerns about issues with your breasts or any other part of your body, talk to your health care provider.
In her 20s, a woman’s body has finished growing into adulthood. She can start to learn what is normal for her body and for her breasts. Remember that the younger you are, the denser your breast tissue will be.
Although getting a screening mammogram is not yet necessary, women in their 30s are encouraged to get a clinical breast exam every one to three years. It’s also important to establish regular exercise and healthy eating habits. As you get older, obesity may increase your risk of getting breast cancer. You may notice changes in your breasts. For most women, breast tissue becomes less dense as they age.
Every woman should know her personal risk factors, and beginning at age 40, every woman should schedule an annual breast health screening, Dr. Brock said.
“An annual screening is not unlike wearing a seatbelt,” Dr. Brock said. “Every time you ride in a car there is a risk of you being involved in a wreck, so you wear your seatbelt to protect yourself and to ensure you are healthy for your family. A yearly screening is a proactive, protective measure, like buckling up, that acknowledges risk and seeks to minimize it.”
Aimee Griffin, director of The Breast Center at Floyd, says knowing your family history is an important factor in breast care.
“When a woman has a good understanding of her personal risk for breast cancer, she can combine risk reduction tactics with a personalized screening plan and set herself up for a lifetime of breast health,” she said.
Women in their 50s, 60s and beyond should continue to receive annual screening mammograms and clinical breast exams.
For most women, when armed with a comprehensive breast screening plan and good breast self-awareness, it is possible to detect and treat breast cancer early. If you have any questions or concerns, always ask your health care provider, Griffin said.
“While most breast problems are benign, or noncancerous, time is important when a new breast concern arises,” Dr. Brock said. “I encourage women, and men, to go to their health care provider as soon as they notice a change. Early intervention and treatment of any breast problem, cancer or not, offers the patient and the surgeon the best options and outcomes.”
For more information or to schedule an exam, contact The Breast Center at Floyd at 706-509-6840.