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Early Detection Matters: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Cancer Care
Author name: Lee Health


Breast Cancer photo

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which reminds us to spread awareness and support for our loved ones about routine mammograms and personal breast exams.

One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime—and early detection is key. But the good news is that most women survive breast cancer if it is found and treated early.

Here’s what you need to know:

Screening and early diagnosis can beat the disease

Screening refers to tests and exams used to find a disease in people who don’t have symptoms. Early detection means finding and diagnosing a disease earlier than if you’d waited for symptoms to start.

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, when breast cancer is detected early and hasn’t spread to anywhere else in the body, the 5-year relative survival rate is 99 percent.

“That’s why being proactive about your health through early detection is so important,” says Dr. Anamika Katoch, a hematologist-oncologist with Lee Physician Group and the Multidisciplinary Breast Clinic at the Lee Health Regional Cancer Center. “A lot of the good survival rate numbers have to do with increasing discussion, awareness, and early prevention.”

Lee Health Breast Health Centers

Did you know? Lee Health operates three Breast Health Centers that use a variety of breast examinations to get the most accurate diagnosis possible at convenient locations.

“We give our patients peace of mind with innovative technology, board-certified physicians who specialize in breast health, and technologists certified in mammography and breast ultrasound,” says Diana McEnerney, director of Lee Health Outpatient Breast Health Imaging. “Our Breast Health Centers are accredited as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology. and the only breast center in Lee County to have achieved accreditation by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers.”

Self-exams and mammograms

Screening and early detection includes doing monthly breast self-exams and scheduling regular clinical breast exams and mammograms. Women should be familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel. They should immediately report any changes to their doctor.

“It’s important that women of all ages regularly perform their own breast exams,” McEnerney says. “While administering your own breast exam, you may discover a new lump earlier than when your annual mammography may be due. If so, you should follow up with your health care provider as soon as possible.”

The American Cancer Society recommends annual screening mammograms for women starting at age 40 and continuing as long as they are in good health. But your doctor might want you to have a screening earlier if you have a mother or sister with breast cancer.

Make a mammogram part of your yearly health checkup because it will also reveal what type of density your breast tissue is, allowing more tests such as MRI or ultrasound, McEnerney says.

Talk with your doctor about when to start mammography screening sooner than later

Mammograms are essential, important, and potentially life-saving. You can use MyChart to schedule a screening today, or if you are not a MyChart user, call 239-236-4893.

For more information about mammograms and breast cancer awareness, visit Lee Health Breast Health.

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