October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month Pt1
The colors most people associate with October are the orange, reds and yellows of the fall foliage, but the most important color for medical providers is pink. Pink is a reminder that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Brittany Gumm, radiologic technologist for the Highland Medical Center explained more.
“October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s the one month out of the year that we get a lot of awareness and attention to this disease that certainly affects a lot of women, and needs this type of attention.
“One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. And when I really stop and think about it, that’s a gathering with my family – there has to be eight women there. So, at Christmas, we have eight women, and one woman there will be diagnosed with cancer, and that’s how it is. On both sides of my family, I have a woman that’s been diagnosed with cancer, so I think one in eight, it’s still too many. And breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, and it is the second leading cause of death among women. The average age for a woman to be diagnosed with breast cancer is 61, and actually as a woman ages, her chances of getting breast cancer increase. So, if you’re healthy, and able to get your mammogram, continue to do so as long as you can.
“Another interesting fact about breast cancer, mainly people associate it with just women, but breast cancer can affect women and men. So not only women need to be checking their breasts, but men too. Men with breast cancer, that makes up one percent of the cases of breast cancer. It’s a low percentage, but still, it’s out there.”
She spoke about methods for detection of the disease.
“There are three basic ways to screen for breast cancer, and number one being a mammogram. It is recommended that women over the age of 40 get a yearly mammogram, unless you have a family history, then you should have it done earlier. And you should have it done every year unless you have symptoms, and then you want to get that done sooner.
“Other ways you can detect breast cancer is doing your breast self-exam – that’s when you check your breast at home on your own. And once you’re 20 years old, every month from there on out, you should check your breast monthly, because if anybody is going to notice changes, it’s going to be you first.
“And then, there’s also a clinical breast exam. That’s where your medical provider will do an exam to check your breasts, and once you’re 20, you should have it done every three years, and when you’re 40, it should be done every year after that.
“Sentara RMH, they bring their mobile mammography unit to the Highland Medical Center, and they give us a schedule of the times that they’ll be at our facility throughout the year. November 14th and November 23rd are the two remaining dates that they’ll be coming for 2016. Again, you can just go there for your basic screening mammogram, and I believe they have added the 3-D mammography as well.
“If they want to make an appointment with the mobile mammography van, they can call us at the Medical Center, 540-468-6400, or they can call directly to the Sentara RMH Funkhouser Women’s Center, and their number is 540-689-6800 or toll free 800-277-1021.
“A lot of women are reluctant to get a mammogram, but it literally takes five to ten minutes of your time; it’s once a year; and it’s a simple exam that is not painful, and it could save your life. It can detect something that’s a pinpoint size, so if you do your mammograms on a regular basis, if unfortunately you would be diagnosed with breast cancer, if you do your mammograms yearly, it’s detected early, again – your life could be saved.”
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this story, the personal account of Jeanne Flinn, a breast cancer survivor.