By Mary Ann Crispin, RN, BSN, MSN, Kenner Army Health ClinicSeptember 28, 2017
FORT LEE, Va. (Sept. 28, 2017) -- National Breast Cancer Awareness month -- set in October -- is a chance to focus attention on preventive health screenings.
Breast cancer is a serious disease that affects men and women. Screening can help detect the disease early when the chance of successful treatment is best. Screening resources are available through Kenner Army Health Clinic including radiology services for breast mammography.
Beneficiaries assigned to Kenner can report to the Department of Radiology to register for a self-requested screening mammogram. Patients will be given a questionnaire to complete and a radiology team member will determine their eligibility for a self-requested mammogram. The program can help most beneficiaries to access mammography services without having to first make appointments with primary care provider.
Patients who meet pre-screening guidelines for self-requesting will be scheduled for mammogram appointments, and the results will be forwarded to assigned providers.
"We are proud to offer this service to our beneficiaries in order to improve the health of our community," said Lt. Col. Daniel G. Cash, Deputy Commander for Clinical Services. "This service will make it easier for patients to get preventive breast cancer screenings performed. The earlier breast cancer is detected, the treatment outcome improves dramatically."
The following are two most commonly used methods to screen for breast cancer:
• A mammogram is low-dose x-ray exam of the breasts. It can detect abnormalities even when there are no signs or symptoms present. Screening charts found that womenshealth.gov give age ranges when the test should be scheduled.
• Clinical breast exam. The doctor looks at and feels the breasts and under the arms for lumps or anything else that seems unusual.
The American Cancer Society and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agree on some basic recommendations for breast cancer screenings that can be found by visiting www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/index.htm and www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/symptoms.htm.
All women should be familiar with the known benefits, limitations and potential harms linked to breast cancer screening. They also should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast changes to a health care provider right away.
It also is important to make providers aware of any changes in the breast such as a lump or dimpling of the skin. It is equally important to maintain an open dialogue with health care providers and to give due consideration to provider recommendations, making health care decisions as a team.
Talk with health care providers about risks based on family history, genetic background or other factors that may change screening schedules. Patients currently experiencing symptoms in their breasts -- lumps, masses, pain, skin changes and drainage -- need to immediately contact provider teams or call for an appointment to be seen right away. Finding a breast change does not necessarily point to cancer, however, one should report any changes to a doctor as soon as they are found.
The ACOG suggests yearly breast exam starting at age 40. The American Cancer Society also has several recommendations:
• Women, ages 40-44, should consider starting annual screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish to do so.
• Women, ages 45-54, should get mammograms every year.
• Women, ages 55 and older, should switch to mammograms every two years or continue yearly screening.
• Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
The following are some additional tips to keep in mind for breast health:
• Keep a record of where the last mammogram was done and be able to provide the doctor's office with a phone number to help access records.
• Make sure to sign a records release. Most doctors' services don't "automatically" send the report back to a Kenner primary health provider.
• Make appointments for preventive screening during the birth month as a way to remember the date.
• Be informed and know family history.
Kenner offers monthly educational lobby displays on various topics to inform community members and beneficiaries on confusing health directives from many well-known regulatory health organizations. During October's Breast Cancer Awareness Week Oct. 16-20, an informational display will be available in the pharmacy lobby at Kenner, and the Fort Lee community is cordially invited to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more.
In addition to offering the self-requesting option for appointments, Kenner representatives will make calls to patients who are overdue for other preventive health care screenings and encourage them to take note of upcoming health screenings.
On Oct. 27, remember to "think pink" by wearing pink as reminder to proactively take care of your health, and emphasis on early detection is key.