Since 1985 the U.S. has recognized October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, highlighting the steps everyone can take to identify and treat breast cancer. One in eight women (12.9 percent) and one in 800 men (0.1 percent) will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives.
Lt. Col. Teresa Finnila, Officer in Charge at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) Mammography Department, discusses breast health basics:
Why is it important to get regularly checked for breast cancer?
Aside from lung cancer, Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. The chances that a woman will die from breast cancer is about 1 in 39 (about 2.5%).
Yearly screening mammograms allow for the early detection of breast cancer before it turns into a lump that you can feel. Catching it at this early stage allows women to be treated with less extensive surgery, fewer mastectomies, and less chemotherapy.
Most importantly, getting regular breast cancer screening mammograms has been proven to cut the risk of dying from breast cancer nearly in half.
What is LRMC doing for early detection of breast cancer?
Screening mammograms are available to any DOD ID card holder, aside from local nationals. Beneficiaries, starting at the age of 40, can self-refer for screening mammograms. However, if you’re having any problems (like finding a new painless breast lump), a visit to your healthcare provider is necessary to ensure you receive the most appropriate imaging, as well as follow-up care.
An MRI screening is also available for high-risk women with a family history of breast cancer which is greater than 20%. This generally applies to women with a strong family history of breast cancer, a known genetic mutation, a history of chest wall radiation at a young age, or with a history of abnormal or atypical (but non-cancerous) breast biopsy, although additional risk factors also contribute to the risk calculation. If you think you might fall into this category, it’s important to see your healthcare provider to know your risk level and possible genetic counseling or testing.
How many people have been screened for breast cancer at LRMC in the past year?
We have performed over 2,000 mammograms in the past year.
How can patient’s lower risks?
Alcohol use, smoking, lack of physical activity, obesity, and hormone replacement therapy are the biggest modifiable risk factors for breast cancer. Women who drink 2-3 drinks a day have about a 20 percent increased risk of breast cancer, in addition to other cancers. Non-modifiable risk factors include genetics and breast density.
·Men and women should speak with their healthcare provider about their risk of developing breast cancer, especially if a family member has had breast or ovarian cancer.
·Discuss when and how often to get a mammogram. For women ages 50 to 74 and at average risk, a mammogram is recommended every 2 years.
·Men can also get breast cancer. This is often misdiagnosed or diagnosed later.
·Anyone experiencing symptoms such as a lump, nipple discharge or change in the appearance of the skin on the breast or nipple should contact their healthcare provider for further testing.
To make an appointment at LRMC’s Mammography Department, call DSN (314) 590-6331 or CIV 0637194646331 weekdays at 0800-1130 and 1300-1530.