Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed forms of cancer for women. However, since the early ‘90s, the death rate for breast cancer has steadily decreased. Most believe it is due to technological advancements as well as awareness and early screening. It is important that women remain ever vigilant when it comes to their health, and being knowledgeable is important for staying healthy.
Breast Cancer Facts
In honor of October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, you should take some time to understand what your risk of developing breast cancer might be. There are certain factors that may increase your chances of developing breast cancer, and if you are at an increased risk, you should undergo regular mammograms.
Gender: Being a woman increases your risk of developing breast cancer, as one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. This is in contrast to the one in 1,000 statistic for men.
Age: The older you are, the higher your risk of developing breast cancer. While some patients are born with mutated genes, others find that genetic mutations happen over their lifetime. An average of 95 percent of all breast cancers occurs in women over 40 years of age.
Family History: Your risk of developing breast cancer doubles if you have a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has had breast cancer.
Importance of Early Diagnosis
Early diagnosis of breast cancer is important for battling and treating the disease. Women treated with stage I or localized breast cancer have a 98 percent survival rate. If you are over 40 years of age, you should have routine mammograms. Women under 40 should perform at-home self-examinations and contact their doctor if they notice any lumps, bumps, skin irregularities, nipple changes, or a discharge of fluid.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are used to target and destroy cancer cells. In some cases, the doctor may decide that a mastectomy is needed to battle cancer. A mastectomy removes the breast gland and surrounding tissue that may be affected by cancer cells and helps prevent the spread of cancer. Current mastectomy techniques allow for breast reconstruction to be performed in tandem.
Breast reconstruction surgery is designed to restore the natural appearance of your breasts following mastectomy. Mastectomy and breast reconstruction can sometimes be performed in conjunction with one another, but patients may decide to undergo breast reconstruction at a later time. Breast reconstruction can use a combination of tissue expanders, flaps, breast implants, and fat grafting to create a new breast appearance.
Breast Reconstruction Awareness Event
Please join Dr. Austin, his staff, other medical professionals, and breast cancer survivors on October 19, 2016 for a breast reconstruction awareness event. The event will be held at Salem Hospital between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. In addition to Dr. Austin and peer navigators discussing their roles in battling breast cancer, there will be exhibit tables that allow you to become more closely acquainted with the procedures and products available. For more information on this event, please visit Dr. Austin’s blog.