Fight Like a Girl Against Breast Cancer

Just because National Breast Cancer Awareness Month has officially come to an end doesn’t mean we can relax our defense against the disease. Every year, 200,000 women are diagnosed with the breast cancer, and nearly 40,000 women die from it. But the death tolls would be much higher—about 30 percent higher—if it weren’t for regular mammograms.

Richard Jones, M.D., a breast imaging radiologist with Solis Women’s Health at USMD Hospital at Arlington has read countless mammograms, and sees two to three new breast cancer cases every week. He has seen first hand the difference routine mammograms can make. “Our ultimate goal is to increase a woman’s chances of survival,” Dr. Jones says.  “Survival probability is directly related to tumor size upon detection. Early detection saves lives.”

When it comes to breast examinations, Dr. Jones encourages women to follow guidelines established by the American Cancer Society which advises women to:

§  Start monthly self breast examinations beginning at 20

§  Have mammograms starting at age 40 and for as long as a woman is in good health

§  Start clinical breast exams every year beginning at age 40

§  Start clinical breast exams every three years beginning at age 20

Some women—because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors—may need to have their first mammogram before 40.

Depending on the density of a woman’s breast tissue, additional breast screenings may be recommended. Currently, breast density is ranked in four categories:

§  Breast Category 1: mostly fatty (10 percent of all women)

§  Breast Category 2: scattered fibroglandular densities (40 percent of all women)

§  Breast Category 3: heterogeneously dense (40 percent of all women)

§  Breast Category 4: extremely Dense (10 percent of all women)

If your breasts are classified as a category three or four, you may benefit from ultra sound or MRI screenings designed to detect breast cancer.  

In addition to regular mammograms, self exams play a vital role in breast cancer awareness.

Because women are their own best advocates against breast cancer, they should be very familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel. “Remember, most breast cancer does not cause pain. There aren’t any symptoms you need to look for,” says Kory Jones, M.D., F.A.C.S., a board-certified surgeon with Arlington Surgical Associates who specializes in breast surgery at USMD Hospital.

For this reason, beginning in their 20s, women should begin doing a routine breast self-exam once a month. By doing so, you get to know how your breasts normally look and feel. And if you do detect any signs of change—a new lump or swelling, skin irritation, dimpling, nipple pain, redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin, or a discharge other than breast milk—see your health care provider as soon as possible.  

Should you or your loved one receive a diagnosis that no on wants to hear—breast cancer—USMD Hospital is ready to stand by you with compassionate expertise from diagnosis through treatment. CareChex recently ranked the facility number four in the nation for cancer care. “We want our patients to experience a positive, compassionate, patient-centered environment that inspires hope when they come here,” says Marcia Crim, RN, BSN, MS, USMD Hospital at Arlington’s chief executive officer and chief nursing officer.

USMD Hospital at Arlington also provides free access to a breast cancer nurse navigator, a compassionate oncology nurse dedicated to guiding breast cancer patients on their journey from diagnosis to survival.

If you have questions about breast cancer diagnosis, treatments or follow-up care, please call 888.444.USMD for a FREE physician referral.  

 

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