SAN DIEGO–October 15, 2019, National Mammography Day is celebrated on October 18th each year and reminds all women of every age and background that an annual mammography just might save their life!
National Mammography Day
On October 18, 1993, Former President William J. Clinton signed Proclamation 6615 to raise public awareness about the devastating impact breast cancer has on women. (Administration of William J. Clinton, 1993/Oct. 18)
With his Proclamation citing: “The risk of death from breast cancer is significantly reduced when the cancer is found in the earlier, more treatable stages of development,” it encourages women to take proactive steps to save their own life through early detection.
Prevalence of breast cancer in the United States is staggering
According to breastcancer.org, approximately one in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime, with approximately 41,760 deaths directly attributed to it.
On January 2019, breastcancer.org estimates there are over 3.1 million women with a history of breast cancer in the US alone.
Breast cancer is often attributed to the presence of BRCA 1 or BRCA2 genes, which significantly increases risk factors, and may be genetically tested by blood test–through there are cases of breast cancer in which neither of these genes were present.
Moreover, traditional forms of hormone replacement therapies which increase the prevalence of estrogen in a woman’s body are believed to be contributory, predominantly impacting those experiencing menopause.
However, those with a familial history of breast cancer nearly doubles the risk.
According to a 2019 report in US Breast Cancer Statistics/Breastcancer.org., “”About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer.”
Being a woman and/or living longer places any woman at risk
The good news for women is the prevalence of mammography, which compresses the breast and obtains low-frequency x-ray imagery of breast cancer at its early stages–oftentimes as early as 3 years prior to physical exam.
Though slightly uncomfortable, there is no denying the benefits of detecting a breast cancer tumor early which significantly increases the opportunity for positive outcome.
Mammography protocols encourage annual screenings beginning at age 40, and significant especially throughout one’s life with up to age 70 being the current FDA standard. (pharmacytimes.com)
Another critical form of early detection is monthly self-examination, and the National Breast Cancer Foundation conveys the following symptoms to be aware of:
Symptoms of breast cancer
-Breast pain, discomfort, tenderness in the breast or underarm.
-Feeling a lump or thickness might be indicative of a cyst or tumor.
Any form of discharge from the breast nipple experienced by women who are not pregnant is a potential breast cancer symptom.
Whether experiencing a variety of discomforts, pain or unusual discharge it is imperative to be seen by a medical professional.
Though the prospect of having breast cancer can be frightening, confronting the symptoms is the best practice for saving lives.
There are several stages of development of breast cancer if one is diagnosed with it–with a strong correlation of the need for early detection to reduce severity, level of treatment(s) and prognosis.
Stages of breast cancer
Breast cancer 0 and 1 are the lowest levels of this disease–indicating is smaller size, higher level of containment within the breast and shorter length of time in its development.
Stages 2 and 2 A means that the cancer is growing in the breast but now as contained as in Stages 0 and 1.
Stages 3 A, B and C means that breast cancer is growing within the breast and beyond it.
Stage 4 is indicative of breast cancer which is growing within the breast but has spread to other areas within the body.
The lower the stage, the less intensive the treatment.
With Stages 0 and 1 it could be more likely for a medical practitioner to recommend lumpectomy and/or possibly radiation as an option. Eliminating estrogenic activity in a woman’s body is strongly encouraged , though this is sometimes debated due to various research outcomes.
Stages 2, 3 and 4 would likely require more extensive approaches for treatments, including the possible medical recommendation for mastectomy which could be commonly advised in combination with chemotherapy, radiation and/or other prescribed medical treatments.
With mammography being the widely recommended method for early detection, in addition to self-examination each month, it is common for non-invasive ultrasound to be recommended for a more visually dimensional viewpoint if
breast cancer or anything suspicious is discovered.
Prior to surgery of any kind, if it is medically indicated and then agreed to by the patient, breast MRI could also likely occur.
Following whatever course of treatment is applicable to the diagnosis of breast cancer, and the personal choices which ultimately must be made, being under the care of an oncologist is widely recommended–especially over the 5 years following any course of treatment.
Blood tests and physical exams provide ongoing insight for the oncologist to determine whether or not breast cancer has returned or occurred elsewhere in the body.
Moreover, genetic testing of the cancer tissue removed during surgery could provide a better understanding of the underlying cause.
For the one in 8 women who develop breast cancer in their lifetime, the months which follow diagnosis can be stressful–it is not uncommon for a woman to develop a form of post traumatic stress as she is faced with fighting for her life.
Breast cancer support groups could provide help for kindred persons who are experiencing a similar life journey, while creating a climate conducive to caring and recovery.
October 18th is a great day for all Americans-it reminds friends, family and loved ones alike that they have the opportunity to take preventive steps in the fight against breast cancer by undergoing a non-invasive mammography each year.
And, also be reminded that there is every possibility for those who are stricken with breast cancer that they may be appropriately treated and have their life saved.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!