Think Pink!

October 6, 2010 by Molly Huff

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and in the spirit of providing our patients and readers with helpful, healthful information, here are some facts about breast cancer and its prevention, diagnosis, treatments - and how you can get involved.

It is estimated that there will be over 200,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in 2010 and over 39,000 deaths from the disease. In light of these dim statistics, though, there are so many ways to educate yourself in prevention and treatment. Knowledge is certainly power in this case, and here are a few things you should know:

Understanding Risk and Prevention

  • Know your risk – learn about your family history and talk to your health care provider about your personal risk of breast cancer.
  • Get screened – Ask your health care provider what screening tests make sense for you. Typically, the guidelines include a clinical breast exam at least every three years starting at age 20, and every year starting at age 40; and, mammograms are generally recommended every year starting at age 40 if you are at average risk.
  • Know what is normal for you, and see your health care provider if you notice any of these changes:
    • Lump, hard knot or thickening
    • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening
    • Change in the size of shape of the breast
    • Dimpling or puckering of the skin
    • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
    • Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
    • Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
    • New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away
  • Make healthy lifestyle choices:
    • Maintain a healthy weight
    • Add exercise into your routine
    • Limit alcohol intake

If, indeed, you are diagnosed with breast cancer, you should know that over the past 20 years, great strides have been made in the treatment of this disease. In fact, the number of breast cancer survivors continues to rise and there are about 2.5 million survivors in the U.S. today.

Some treatments for breast cancer include:
• Surgery
• Radiation therapy
• Chemotherapy
• Chemotherapy drugs
• Hormone therapies
• Targeted therapies
• Neoadjuvant (preoperative) therapies
• Emerging therapies

There are also many ways to support the fight against breast cancer. In addition to national organizations like the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the American Cancer Society, many local organizations have information, support groups and events; check online, with your health care provider or phone book.

A local Cancer Support Group here in Tiftarea is held every fourth Tuesday of the month at 5:30 P.M.  This group meets at the Tift Regional Medical Center Oncology Center at 1623 Madison Avenue, Tifton, Georgia.  You can register by calling Tift Regional at 229.386.1300 or at the Calendar of Events at Tift Regional's website.

There is also a free Lunch & Learn Lecture on October 19th of this month entitled, "What Every Woman Should Know About Breast Cancer."  Sponsored by TRMC's Community Spirit Program, the presenter will be Judy Weaver.  This event is going to be held at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center.  Call 229.353.6318 to register or visit the Calendar of Events at Tift Regional's website.

Girls Night Out at the TRMC's Women's Imaging Center holds a quarterly "Girls Night Out" that offers convenient evening appointment times for women who may not be able to receive their annual mammograms during regular working hours.  Medicare, Medicaid, cash and most forms of insurance are accepted.  "Girls Night Out" participants are also treated to free massages, hand treatments, hors d'oeuvres and girl time.  Appointments are required - have your physician's office call 229.353.7899 to schedule a "Girls Night Out' mammogram. 

Learn more about breast cancer and what you can do to prevent, treat and support the fight against this disease here.