October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and according to nationalbreastcancer.org, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. While cancer can’t be prevented, you can be proactive with your health.
Patrick Padgett, a radiology specialist at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital said current recommendations from the American College of Radiology and the Society for Breast Imaging are for annual mammography in women starting at age 40.
“If a large population were to increase the screening interval to every other year, it is estimated that up to 30 percent of cancers would be missed, he said. “Mammography has played a key role in reducing breast cancer mortality by 30-40 percent in the U.S. since 1990.”
Padgett recommends mammograms every year.
If there a history of breast cancer in the family, such as a mother or sister, Padgett recommends screening with mammography should begin 10 years before the age at which the family member was diagnosed with cancer, or at age 40, whichever comes first.
“Ask your doctor to help you estimate your personal risk of developing breast cancer with an online tool such as the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool (bcrisktool.cancer.gov),” he said. “These results can help you and your provider decide how to proactively manage your personal breast health.”
In premenopausal women, Padgett said it is not uncommon for a lump to come and go with the hormonal changes inherent in their menstrual cycle, so waiting a few days, or up to three weeks, for the lump to resolve is often all that is indicated.
“If a lump persists beyond this time period, if the lump develops after menopause, or if there are skin or nipple changes noted as well, call your doctor or other provider and ask for an appointment,” he said. “The first imaging tests to order in this scenario are a mammogram and focused breast ultrasound.”
When to contact a medical professional
Before being treated for Breast Cancer:
- You have a breast or armpit lump
- You have nipple discharge
- After being treated for Breast Cancer:
- Nipple discharge
- Rash on the breast
- New lumps in the breast
- Swelling in the area
- Pain, especially chest pain, abdominal pain, or bone pain
To support those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, the 2019 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk is at 2 p.m. Oct. 27 at Smothers Park in downtown Owensboro. On-site registration begins at noon.
If you or any woman you know ages 40 to 64 needs help paying for a mammogram, Owensboro Health can help. Call 800-811-9162.