The month of March is Women’s history month, so I would like to take this opportunity as a woman and a healthcare provider to encourage all women to take good care of themselves. We want you to be around, not just to read about our history but to create it. A healthy mind, body, soul, and spirit leads to a healthy perspective and a better world for us and the next generation. With this in mind, I want to discuss Breast Cancer Self Awareness.
Breast cancer is a global health problem and a leading cause of morbidity (sickness) and mortality (death) among women. It is a significant public health concern worldwide because of its high incidence-prevalence, medical expenditure, and over-burdened health system. Women who can identify a family member who has had breast cancer are at higher risk, but unfortunately, any woman can receive the dreaded breast cancer diagnosis. Early diagnosis and treatment improve the chances of survival.
Breast Self-Awareness is a simple way of identifying breast cancer early to start treatment and prevent a fatal outcome. Although the American Cancer Society no longer emphasizes breast self-exam, they have stated the importance of women being aware of how their breasts usually look and feel and report any changes to a health care provider right away. Awareness is essential, and if a woman notices a breast change at some point in between her regular mammograms, she should immediately communicate this with her provider. Every woman can do this in the privacy of their own home.
Genetic testing for hereditary breast cancer looks for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. A positive test result should lead to a serious discussion with your doctor or provider. A genetic counselor can help to determine the best testing strategy for you and your family.
Mammograms are the cornerstone of breast care. Regular mammograms can detect 85% of breast cancer or the 3D, which discovers about 73% of cancers that are 1 centimeter (cm) or smaller and node-negative. The 3D mammogram is FDA approved but is not yet standard and may not be readily available. The American Cancer Society recommended that women at average risk for breast cancer start annual screening mammograms at age 45 (instead of 40). Women at higher should start earlier. The recommended schedule for Mammograms is as follows: Informed decision-making with a healthcare provider ages 40-44. In other words, speak with your healthcare provider and discuss your risks and needs. Women ages 45-5 every two years (or every year if a woman chooses to do so). Starting at age 55, for as long as a woman is in good health, a mammogram is recommended every 1-2 years.
Once a woman receives a breast cancer report, a treatment plan must be initiated and implemented for the most favorable outcome. As always, I encourage you to speak with your
primary care provider or your GYN. If you don’t have a GYN, ask your primary for a recommendation. I recommend the best OB/GYB/Surgeon that I know: Dr. Sharon Smith Thomas. Office located at 660 Glades Rd in Boca Raton, Fl. 561-488-1801.
Women, Sisters, I encourage you to be vigilant. Do not ignore your health and well-being. There is no success without your health. I am speaking to myself and all of the women reading this article: Let’s pledge to take charge of our overall health. We can do this for ourselves and our families. Let’s make history together.
Follow these links to learn more about breast health: