YOUR Health & Wellness: Breast Cancer Awareness

Oct 15, 2021 at 09:38 am by RMGadmin

with Williamson Medical Center and Rebecca Baskin, M.D.

Three Facts to Fuel a Healthy Fall

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Williamson Medical Center is committed to raising awareness and promoting prevention, early detection and treatment. Keeping all the facts, figures and recommendations straight can be difficult, so here are a few tips to help you make informed decisions about your health this fall.  

Breast cancer is more common than you think. In fact, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers. While breast cancer can also affect men, the average risk for a woman in the U.S. to develop the disease is 13%, meaning a one in eight chance. The American Cancer Society estimates about 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed this year, in addition to 49,290 non-invasive cases. 

Early detection is key.

While breast cancer is common, early detection helps to prevent severe cases and even death. In fact, when cancer is found early and before it has spread outside of the breast, the five-year survival rate is 99%, according to the American Cancer Society. All women should perform monthly breast exams at home and talk with their doctor about yearly screenings. For women over 40 at average risk for breast cancer, the American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBrS) recommends yearly mammography. For average risk women with dense breasts, it is recommended to add 3D tomosynthesis mammography imaging, as this technology is 40% more accurate in finding small cancers in the breast for this group. Yearly screening mammography should then continue until life expectancy becomes less than ten years. 

Women who are at elevated risk for breast cancer due to family risk, genetic mutations and personal history of atypical biopsy results are recommended for clinical breast exams (CBE) every six months in addition to yearly mammography and imaging, which can include a breast MRI every one to two years. 

Mammograms are a vital tool in fighting breast cancer. 

A mammogram is a diagnostic tool that helps you and your doctor detect breast cancer early—sometimes even before a lump can be felt—when the cancer is easiest to treat. Mammograms help to identify abnormal areas in the breast tissue, giving you and your physician vital information as you make decisions regarding further testing or treatment. 

Some women are at higher risk than others. 

Having a risk factor doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to develop breast cancer; it just means that you may have an increased chance of developing the disease. You are considered average risk for breast cancer if you don’t have a personal history of breast cancer, a strong family history of breast cancer or a genetic mutation known to increase the risk of breast cancer, such as a BRCA gene (sometimes called the breast cancer gene). If you do have these risk factors, you may be at higher risk of developing breast cancer—but it’s important to remember that your risk also increases as you age. Just a few more reasons not to skip your yearly screening!

You can lower your risk of developing breast cancer. 

While some risks—like genetics or family history—can’t be changed, there are lifestyle changes you can make right now to lower your risk of developing breast cancer. Watching your weight (increased body weight as an adult has been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer after menopause) and being physically active have both been shown to help. Alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer, so it may be best to limit your intake or avoid alcohol altogether. Breastfeeding your child for several months may also offer the added benefit of reducing your risk for the disease. While you can’t control every risk factor, you can manage some of them, and every little bit counts! 

The Turner-Dugas Breast Health Center at Williamson Medical Center offers high-quality breast healthcare in the heart of Williamson County. The Center houses 2D/3D tomosynthesis technology, SmartCurve mammograms, the latest breast MRI technology and the ability for minimally invasive biopsies. Clinicians also specialize in genetic testing and counseling, in addition to surgical treatment of breast disease. 

From state-of-the-art technology to personalized care, the team is committed to ensuring patients get convenient, accurate, rapid results and excellent care. The Turner-Dugas Breast Health Center has been recognized nationally as a center of excellence and received the 2020 Women’s Choice Award as one of America’s Best Breast Centers for the eighth year in a row. 

Rebecca Baskin, M.D.

Williamson Medical Center

Rebecca Baskin, M.D., is a breast surgeon and breast health specialist with Williamson Medical Group
at The Turner-Dugas Breast Health Center at Williamson Medical Center.