Let’s Make Breast Health A Priority
COVID-19 has disrupted life as we know it! Since March 2020, secondguessing decisions often happen, including scheduling a routine checkup or exam, once made without hesitation. Now is the time, ladies, to push excuses and reasoning to the back burner and get that mammogram scheduled. Even in the uncertainty of the present day, it remains clear we can’t let the pandemic stop us from taking care of our health. Breast cancer hasn’t stopped because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Every 74 seconds, somewhere in the world, a woman dies from breast cancer. It is the leading cause of cancer death among women worldwide. The American Cancer Society estimates 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in this year alone. These alarming statistics come with a plea for women to understand the importance of scheduling an annual mammogram.
“The number one thing you can do to help reduce your risk of breast cancer is get your annual mammogram and do monthly selfbreast exams,” said Tyler Plauche, M.D., breast imaging radiologist at CHRISTUS Breast Center.
Mammograms are the most important tool physicians have for the early detection of breast cancer, even when individuals have no signs or symptoms. Mammography has helped reduce breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by nearly 40% since 1990.
Dr. Plauche recommends women get an annual mammogram starting at age 40. For those with a family history of breast cancer, that is sometimes younger.
“This is a conversation to have with your physician. If there is a family history or health issues that could increase your risk factors, the time to start having mammograms could be earlier.”
Family history isn’t the only thing putting women at high risk for breast cancer. Studies have shown that the risk for breast cancer is due to a combination of factors, including simply being a woman and getting older. Other risk factors include reproductive history and genetic mutations.
CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier Health System offers the most advanced technology available for early detection of breast cancer. Digital 3D mammography has proven to increase the detection of breast cancer.
It captures multiple images, or slices, of the breast from several angles, creating a 3D image making masses and breast cancer easier to detect. This type of mammogram is also particularly helpful in women with dense breast tissue by allowing for a more sensitive evaluation. Finding the breast cancer easier means being able to treat it sooner.
“We can treat the cancer with surgery, radiation, chemo or a combination, depending on the specific type of breast cancer. We are seeing women survive more and more because they are proactive in their health,” said Dr. Neelima Chintapalli, medical oncologist and hematologist at CHRISTUS Cancer Treatment Center.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for breast cancer treatment. Some patients only need surgery, while other patients might need chemo, radiation and surgery. It’s important to know and understand what treatment options are available.
“As you get older, your risk for breast cancer increases. I encourage all women to speak up and talk to your physician about any changes in your breast or your health.
The sooner we can treat the cancer the better the outcome will be,” said Dr. Chintapalli.
As for the excuses, well, each one is different. As of late, putting off the mammogram has been rooted in uncertainty, apprehension, availability and fear of exposure to COVID-19. It is important for women to realize it’s very safe to get a mammogram right now. Safety plans have been implemented, appointments are scheduled to limit crowding in waiting rooms, increased cleaning and sanitizing practices are in place.
If you’re thinking about skipping your mammogram (again this year) because of COVID-19, it’s not a good idea to do so. Nothing will keep us from making your breast health a priority, whether you need a mammogram, help choosing the right physician or treatment plan. Let’s get started together. No excuses!