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UVMC to Provide Free Breast Health Awareness Program in October

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, designed to help educate women about their risk of developing the disease and the importance of detecting it in its earliest stages.
 
As part of the month’s activities, UVMC will host free counseling about genetic testing for cancer Oct. 5, 12, 19 and 26 from 2 to 3 p.m. in the hospital Cafeteria.  Sarah Jones, Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist, will answer questions in personalized sessions.  Participants will receive a complimentary Breast Health Handbook, free gift and opportunity to participate in door prize drawings. 
 
Breast cancer claims more than 40,000 lives per year in our country and is second only to lung cancer in the number of cancer deaths in women.

While it is known that breast cancer results from abnormal growth of cells in breast tissue, it is not known what causes this abnormal growth.  Researchers are focused on the role of heredity, lifestyle and diet in the development of all forms of cancer.

Many of the estimated 207,090 American women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year have no obvious risk factors.

However, there are certain factors that increase the risk factors.  The most important risk factors for breast cancer are age and a family history of breast cancer.

The majority of breast cancers occur in women over 50 years of age.  In addition, your risk is increased if you:

  • Have a strong history of breast cancer
  • Have never had children
  • Had your first child after age 30
  • Began menstruating before age 12
  • Began menopause after age 55
  • Eat a diet high in fat

Breast cancer, even in very early stages, can be easily identified.  You can monitor your own health by following this three-step program:

Step 1:  Schedule regular mammograms.  A mammogram is a special breast x-ray that can reveal a small breast cancer up to two years before it can be felt.  This important test is extremely safe, as modern mammography uses very low amounts of radiation.  Women 40 or older should schedule regular yearly mammograms.

Step 2:  Examine your breasts.  Examine your breasts monthly, several days after your menstrual period, or on the same day every month after menopause.  Your physician can show you how to do this.  If you find a lump, don’t be alarmed.  Breast lumps are common, and more than 80 percent are not cancerous.  You should consult your physician, however, for an expert opinion about a lump.

Step 3:  See your physician regularly.  Self-examination, although important, is not enough.  Between 20 and 40 years old, your breasts should be examined by your physician at least once every three years.  If you are over 40, you should be examined every year.

The diagnosis of breast cancer does not automatically mean removal of the breast.  Today breast cancer can be caught at an earlier stage than ever before, and treated successfully.  A cancerous lump can be detected by mammography or physical examination before it becomes life-threatening.  Surgical options for early breast cancer include limited breast surgery (lumpectomy) and breast reconstruction.  Additional treatment may include radiation therapy, hormonal therapy or chemotherapy.

No single treatment is ideal for all patients because not all patients are alike.  The recommendation for the most appropriate treatment depends upon a number of factors, including age, overall health, and type and extent of cancer.  Today, women have choices in the treatment of breast cancer.  Your physician can review these options with you and discuss all your questions before a decision is made.

If you remember only one thing about breast cancer it should be this: Your best protection is early detection.  Early detection provides the best opportunity to treat breast cancer successfully.  For further information, feel free to contact the UVMC Cancer Care Center at (937) 440-4820.

This information is provided by the health care professionals of UVMC / Upper Valley Medical Center.  It is intended for educational purposes and should not be used as a substitute for the care of a physician.  Please contact your doctor for specific advice and/or treatment of health conditions.  For additional health-related information, log on to UVMC.com.