October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with lots of events and fundraising efforts dedicated to creating awareness of the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women worldwide. About 40,000 women are expected to die in 2014 from the disease in the United States alone. These statistics are shocking, but what’s even more shocking is that 99% of women survive breast cancer if it is detected early.
Early detection is the most valuable resource in increasing success of minimally invasive treatments and a woman’s chance of survival. Breast cancer can be treatable if it is caught early through breast exams and diagnostic imaging.
There are four main types of tests that can catch breast cancer at its early stages.
- Self Breast Examination (SBEs): Self examinations allow you to get more familiar with your own breasts and know your own normal. Because you know your own body, performing SBEs regularly help you easily detect irregularities. However, irregularities don’t always mean breast cancer, so if you discover something, its best to see your primary care physician or OB/GYN for a full examination and proper diagnosis.
- Clinical Breast Exams (CBEs): Clinical Breast Exams should be performed yearly for women 20 years of age or older and are usually performed by your primary care physician or OB/GYN at your annual check up. During a CBE, your physician will look at and feel your breasts for irregularities, similar to an SBE. Older women or women at high risk of breast cancer require additional testing.
- Mammograms: Mammograms take an image of the breast tissue using x-rays and can be used on women over 40 who are at low or average risk of cancer, or patients of any age at high risk. They are also used to examine the breast more closely for accurate diagnosis. Women over age 40 should have a mammogram yearly. Despite mammogram’s high detection rate, some limitations exist. For patients at high risk of cancer, more tests may need to be performed. A woman’s risk level should be assessed by a primary care physician or OB/GYN and depends on health history, age, family history and breast tissue density.
- Breast MRI or Ultrasound: Breast MRIs take a more detailed picture of the breast than mammograms. They should be performed in addition to mammograms for women at high risk of breast cancer, because they tend to be more sensitive than mammograms, but also have higher false positive rates. A follow-up biopsy should be preformed following a positive breast MRI. CMH offers a full range of breast cancer surgery options from highly trained and experienced surgeons.
A combined approach to breast cancer detection is most effective to help improve survival rates and the success of minimally invasive treatments. The most important way to protect yourself is by going to see your primary care physician or OB/GYN to get tested and screened.
CMH provides all the resources you need for breast health and cancer detection at the Women’s Health Center or Breast Care Center. Don’t have a primary care doctor or OB/GYN? Find one here.
CMH Breast Care
71 Prospect Ave., Suite 240
Hudson, NY 12534
Columbia Memorial Surgical Associates
71 Prospect Ave
Hudson, NY 12534