Taking Charge of Your Health - Frequency of breast cancer demands awareness, conversation with doctor

By Mary Ann Crispin, KAHC Disease Management CoordinatorOctober 8, 2020

Breast cancer is the second most common form of that disease among American women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s sad to report that approximately 42,000 women in the U.S. die from breast cancer every year.

In recognition of October’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month observance, Kenner Army Health Clinic is joining the CDC and other health agencies across the nation for an awareness campaign that’s meant to encourage conversations with family doctors and routine screenings, particularly among high risk individuals.

The following are a few fast facts from the CDC about breast cancer:

There is an abundance of recommendations as to what age to begin testing. Family history, risk factors and changes in the breasts play a part in determining when individuals need to start mammography screenings. Kenner encourages beneficiaries to have a conversation with their provider who will make recommendations and referrals based on personal history and other factors.

While breast cancer can develop without symptoms, there are warning signs that should prompt individuals to make an appointment with their health care provider as soon as possible. They include the following:

  • Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
  • Pain in any area of the breast.
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood).
  • A new lump in the breast or underarm.

Women who have never conducted a self-exam of the breast should research the topic and/or discuss it with their health care provider to get appropriate instruction. The same advice can be followed by those who are not confident they’re doing a self-exam correctly. This is a very important defense in the war against breast cancer, so take the steps to do it right.

Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat and before it shows or causes symptoms. All types of x-ray screenings or diagnostic testing at Kenner during this pandemic requires calling the clinic (866-533-5242) to make an appointment.

The Radiology department at KAHC is working hard to keep patients safe. Scheduled appointments allow the staff to clean and prepare rooms between each patient. Mammography services are open with a couple of changes to maintain safe practices for all. Patients must wear protective masks during Mammography and ultrasound procedures. There are no exceptions. No other person can come with the patient to their mammography or ultrasound appointment unless that individual has mobility issues. Patients will disabilities and language barriers can work with the staff for special accommodations.

Mammography appointments are 40 minutes long. This allows enough time to space patients for the additional cleaning, disinfecting and preparation for the next appointment. All equipment is wiped down thoroughly between patients with disinfectants.

Diagnostic Mammograms must be done on ultrasound weeks. Other services that involve call backs and follow ups also may need to be scheduled during ultrasound weeks.

An excellent tip is to schedule your preventive health screening in conjunction with a birthday week or even the October NBCAM observance as a way to remember when it’s time to get your next checkup.

The best source of additional breast cancer awareness information is the CDC, which prides itself in being a common source for unbiased health education and universal guidelines. There also is printable information to share with others at no cost. The agency’s website offers a yearly health observance schedule, www.cdc.gov/women/observances/index.htm.

Again, if you have any concerns or symptoms that worry you, see your doctor right away. Call the Kenner appointment line at 866-533-5242. As always, being in tune with your body and maintaining a regular schedule of self-exams monthly is the best way to recognize changes early.