Blog - October 2019

Breast cancer news - the good, the bad and the ugly

Posted on October 15, 2019 in mammogram

October and breast cancer awareness are in full swing. Here at Diagnostic Imaging Centers, every day means opportunities to focus on this second leading cancer in women. Every day means a chance to make a difference.

 

It seems like a good time to review the latest numbers related to breast cancer. We HAVE come a long way - gone are the days when no one dared mention the disease. And women facing the disease today have multifaceted individualized treatment options, much improved from the days of radical mastectomy as the one and only option.

 

So first the good news. The American Cancer Society recently reported a 40% drop in breast cancer deaths between the years of 1989 and 2017. This means 375,900 fewer deaths from breast cancer during that time period. This drop in deaths is due to both better treatment for those women who have breast cancer and improvement in detection. Finding breast cancer early, at its most treatable stage is the goal of screening. The recommendation of many, including the Society of Breast Imaging and the American College of Radiology amongst others, to start screening average risk women with mammography every year starting at the age of 40 is focused on the goal of saving the most women’s lives from breast cancer.

 

The bad news? There are still racial differences in breast cancer deaths - and we don’t yet have all the reasons for why these disparities persist. Breast cancer death rates are higher in black women than white in every state in the US - in some states by as much as 60% higher! This must be a focus of future research not only on the whys, but also on ways to counter this trend. A risk assessment for breast cancer should be a part of every woman’s health plan in her 20s - especially for black women who are more likely to develop the disease before the age of 40. This risk assessment may modify the standard screening protocol and may help to address this trend.

 

And now for the ugly - the number of women dying from breast cancer this year is estimated to be 41,760, and around 500 men will die from the disease. Numbers too hard to ponder and too high by far. We still do not find all breast cancers with current screening - and we still only screen a disappointing percentage of women who should be undergoing screening. Our fight against breast cancer is far from done.

 

Our hope for this October is to spread the word. We HAVE come a long way in our fight against this deadly disease, but the fight is not over. We look forward to the day that breast cancer no longer threatens a single life. And until that day, our hope is for 100% access for screening for all women.

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Breast Cancer - Are You At Risk?

Posted on October 7, 2019 in mammography

October is a month of pumpkins and goblins, falling leaves and cooler temps. For our team at Diagnostic Imaging Centers, October means Breast Cancer Awareness month - pink ribbons and an opportunity to bring our focus squarely on the goal to fight this disease with the best tools we have - early diagnosis and prompt treatment.

 

Misconceptions about breast cancer are common and can keep women from getting potentially life-saving breast cancer screening. Let’s empower with knowledge by reviewing common misconceptions about risks for the disease.

 

Are you at risk?

  • Are you over 40 and female? Getting older and being female - those are the 2 BIGGEST RISK FACTORS for breast cancer! Breast cancer can affect those under the age of 40, but less commonly - if you have a change in your breasts such as a lump or changes in the skin or nipple at any age, see your doctor right away. Breast cancer can also affect males - but again, much less commonly.
  • Do you have a family history of breast cancer? This is one of the most common misconceptions about breast cancer - it does NOT take a family history to place you at risk - over 75% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have NO family history - over 75%! You are average risk being female and over 40 - average risk, meaning 1 in 8 will develop the disease during their lifetime. Screening for breast cancer in average risk women should mean yearly breast exams by your personal physician and yearly mammograms. If you do have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, your individual risk will be higher, and your screening strategy may differ from that of our average risk women.
  • Do you have small breasts? Large? Implants? Turns out, size matters not to breast cancer. Small, large or in-between are all at risk and can all be imaged successfully with mammography. Women with breast implants should get breast cancer screening with mammography yearly, as recommended for all average risk women.
  • Do you smoke? Smoking increases your risk for breast cancer - and other cancers throughout the body. If you do smoke, consider this one more reason to ditch the habit for good!

 

There are other lesser risk factors for breast cancer including obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and alcohol use among others. These have a lesser impact on your overall risk, but are risks that YOU can successfully modify!

 

We are making great strides with this disease - the number of deaths is declining. But we still have much to learn and still lose over 40,000 women to breast cancer every year. We cannot help but wonder, how many lives could we save if October awareness meant screening of ALL women at risk?

* Dr. Angela Noto & Dr. Numukunda Darboe take the stage at the Susan G. Komen More Than Pink Walk

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