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Be in Charge of Your Health

10-10-2016

CaroMont Health Encourages Women to Get Their Mammograms

Breast cancer is a story of both heartache and promise. It is estimated that one in eight U.S. women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. However, the hope is that millions of women living today are survivors thanks to early detection, advanced medicine and support.

“While we can’t change statistics, we as women can take control of our health by being informed and getting yearly mammograms,” said Paula Lundgren, MD CaroMont Breast Surgical Specialists. “Millions of women are surviving breast cancer in part because of early detection and advancing medicine.”

In 2015, 262 people were diagnosed with breast cancer at CaroMont Health, and of those cases, 86 percent were diagnosed at an early stage, when the chances of survival are greatest. CaroMont is actively fighting this disease by helping women become better informed about their health, treatment options and services that area available to them right here in our community.

Here are some ways you can take control of your health:

Know and Understand Your Risk
Every woman wants to know how she can lower her risk for breast cancer. Unfortunately, some factors cannot be changed like your family history, although about eight out of 10 who get breast cancer do not have a family history. Other factors include having a personal history of breast cancer, race and ethnicity (white women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than African-American women), being diagnosed with certain benign breast conditions like atypical hyperplasia.

Don’t Put Off Regular Screenings
It’s important to talk to your doctor to determine the best screening method for you, particularly women who are considered at a higher risk. For most women, current recommendations are yearly mammograms starting at age 40 and clinical breast exams in the office or clinical setting.

Know Your Body
Emerging studies and technology are allowing doctors to find breast cancer early when treatment is most likely to be successful. But still, you can never underestimate the importance of knowing your own body. The most common warning signs of breast cancer are changes in the look or feel of the breast or changes in the look or feel of the nipple or nipple discharge (usually occurs in one breast and is clear or bloody).

“No one knows your body like you, and I can’t stress enough the importance of breast self-exams,” said Dr. Lundgren. “Mammograms are designed to find cancer before physical symptoms develop, but breast self-exams help women get familiar with the look and feel of their breasts and report any changes to their doctor.”

Consider Genetic Counseling
Though most cancers are due to behavioral or environmental causes, and even, at times, by chance, there are many known genes that may increase an individual’s risk. Genetic counseling identifies those at increased risk of cancer in order to promote awareness, early detection and cancer prevention, as well as guide treatment and follow-up options for those already diagnosed. In 2015, 105 women with a personal history of breast cancer underwent genetic counseling at CaroMont Cancer Center.

To learn more about this program and to find out if genetic testing is right for you, click here.

Make Healthy Choices
Last, but certainly not least, is to stay healthy. Healthy lifestyle choices may help lower your risk of different types of cancer, including breast cancer, as well as other health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. These include: maintaining a healthy weight (a body mass index of 18.5 and below 25), being physically active, limiting alcohol intake and eating fruits and vegetables. Breastfeeding can also lower your risk of breast cancer if a women is able to breastfeed longer than one year.1 For some women, hormone therapy can increase their chances of breast cancer. It is important to talk to your doctor about these possible risks and to follow U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommendations for menopausal hormone use or hormone replacement therapy to lowering breast cancer risk.

Dr. Lundgren is a fellowship-trained breast surgeon, and joined the healthcare system after completing her breast fellowship from Cleveland Clinic, one of the nation’s leading institutions for advanced training in breast disease. She is board certified in general surgery. Learn more about Dr. Lundgren here.

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Sources:

1-http://www.breastcancer.org/risk/factors/breastfeed_hist
Susan G. Komen. Breast Self-Awareness. http://komencharlotte.org/about-breast-cancer/bsa/.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Menopause and hormones: Common questions.http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ByAudience/ForWomen/ucm118624.htm, 2014.

Categories: Health