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New Guidelines for Breast Cancer Screening

By: Karen Kostko
By: Karen Kostko

In 1997, The American Cancer Society listed guidelines to help women detect breast cancer.

The guidelines are updated every five years, and last week, those guidelines have been revised.

The new guidelines stress the importance of early detection through self-examination, mammograms, and talking with physicians.

Women with a family history of breast cancer are strongly encouraged to discuss the new guidelines with their doctors.

MRIs and ultrasounds are also included in the new guidelines used as tools beyond mammograms to help aid early detection.

For more information, visit the American Cancer Society website.

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Breast Cancer Awareness

  • October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

    • The third Friday in October each year is National Mammography Day. Learn which facilities in your area are taking part in this Oct. 19 event:
      • American Cancer Society: (800) 227-2345

      • The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation: (800) 462-9273

      • National Alliance of Breast Cancer (NABCO): (888) 80-NABCO

      • Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization: (800) 221-2141

      What Factors Increase Your Risk for Breast Cancer

      • Having a personal history of a prior breast cancer.

      • Evidence of a specific genetic change increases susceptibility to breast cancer.

      • Having a mother, sister, daughter, or two or more close relatives, such as cousins, with a history of breast cancer, especially if diagnosed at a young age.

      • A diagnosis of a breast condition that may predispose a woman to breast cancer, or a history of two or more breast biopsies for benign breast disease.

      • Women age 45 or older that have at least 75 percent dense tissue on a mammogram are at some increased risk.

      • A slight increase in risk for breast cancer is associated with having a first birth at age 30 or older.

      What Can You Do?

      • If you are in your 40s or older, get a mammogram on a regular basis, every one to two years.

      • Talk with your doctor or nurse about planning your personal schedule for screening mammograms and breast exams.

      • Gather as much information as you can about your family history of cancer, breast cancer, and screening mammograms.

      • Call the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service for more information about breast cancer and mammograms at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237). People with TTY equipment, dial 1-800-332-8615.

      Alternate Forms of Breast Cancer Treatment

      • There are many ways to treat breast cancer, and these are the four main types:
        • surgery
        • radiation therapy
        • chemotherapy
        • hormone therapy

      • Most patients with breast cancer have surgery to remove the cancer from the breast. Usually, some of the lymph nodes under the arm are also taken out and looked at under a microscope to see if there are any cancer cells.

      • There are many different kinds of operations used; lumpectomy, partial or segmental mastectomy, total or simple mastectomy, modified radical mastectomy and radical mastectomy.

      • Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.

      • Radiation therapy may come from a machine outside the body (external radiation therapy), or from putting materials that produce radiation through thin plastic tubes into the area where the cancer cells are found (internal radiation therapy).

      • Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells, and is called a systemic treatment because the drugs enter the bloodstream, travel through the body, and can kill cancer cells outside the breast area.

      • Chemotherapy may be taken by mouth or it may be put into the body by inserting a needle into a vein or muscle.

      • Biological therapy tries to get the body to fight cancer. It uses materials made by the body or made in a laboratory to boost, direct, or restore the body's natural defenses against disease.

      • Biological therapy such as bone marrow transplantation, and peripheral blood stem cell transplantation are being tested in clinical trials.

      Source: http://www.meds.com/pdq/breast_pat.html (National Cancer Institute Web Site)

      Breast Self-Examination

      When to Examine Your Breasts

      • Examine once a month, when your breasts are not tender or swollen.
      • After menopause, check your breasts on the first day of each month. After a hysterectomy, consult with your doctor or clinic for an appropriate time of the month

      What to do if you find a lump or thickening?
      • If a lump, dimple or discharge is discovered during a self-exam, it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible.

      American Cancer Society Recommendations
      • A monthly self-examination breast exam is not a substitute for an examination by a medical professional. How often should I see the doctor for a mammogram?
      • Ages 35-39, one baseline mammogram.
      • Ages 40-49, one every 1-2 years.
      • Over age 50, one every year.

      Source: American Cancer Society


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