Breast Cancer Awareness Month Q&A Part 2

October 06, 2016

Katherine Rogala
Rochester Regional Health

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Today, about 1 of 8 women in the United States is unfortunately expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Throughout October, members of the Rochester Regional Health Breast Care team will provide information in our monthly Q&A series to help you take a few important steps that can significantly improve your odds of enjoying a lifetime of good health.

Q: How do I prevent breast cancer?

A: The most powerful way to improve your odds against breast cancer is early detection. Breast cancer survival is strongly related to stage at diagnosis. Current data suggests the 5-year survival rate from Stage 0 breast cancer is over 90%, while 5-year survival at Stage 4 is 15%. While early detection isn’t the only factor, it is a major one.

Two important components of breast cancer detection are:

· Mammograms are the best tool to detect breast cancer early. Breast Tomosynthesis or 3D Mammograms is an advanced type of mammograms that offers better cancer detection, fewer call backs and greater peace of mind. The American Cancer Society, as well as other specialty groups concerned with early detection, recommend mammograms starting at age 40. Women at high risk, including those with dense breasts, benefit from additional, supplemental tests such as breast ultrasound and MRI.

· Physical Exam Physical exams are critical to support early detection. At each exam, your doctor should physically check for suspicious lumps, skin or nipple changes, or unusual nipple discharge that occurs without manipulation. Regular self-exams are also important. Women who practice breast self-awareness are more likely to notice and report changes earlier than those who do not − resulting in faster detection and treatment.

You can also reduce your risk by keeping a healthy weight, exercising regularly, avoiding exposure to chemicals that can cause cancer, breastfeed any children you may have, and limiting exposure to radiation from medical imaging testing.

The Rochester Regional Health Breast Center is one of the highest volume breast centers in New York State and is a Center of Excellence in cancer care. Our goals are to: Provide patient focused state-of-the-art comprehensive and coordinated multidisciplinary care in a compassionate and supportive environment, maintain excellence through supporting oncology clinical research, and serve as a community resource for referring and treating physicians as well as patients and their families. For more information, visit our website.