Let’s talk Pinktober!

Nikki Sommer, a nurse with Key West Surgical Group, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM yesterday morning to talk about Pinktober. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. 

Sommer said, “People call it Pinktober.”

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women. 

Sommer said, “Regular screenings are the way to catch it before it turns into something bad. You can’t prevent it, but you can prevent disease progression if you do your annual mammograms. Usually it’s 40 years of age or older. Of course, if you have a family history on the maternal side, mother, grandmother, your doctor may recommend starting sooner depending on the age of when they were diagnosed with their breast cancer.”

Starting at 20, women should have a clinical breast exam every three years. 

Sommer said, “And always self breast exams. You’re familiar with your own body so if you tend to have cystic breast disease, like a lot of women do, sometimes if you drink a lot of caffeine you’ll have little lumpy bumpies in your breast. You would be the first one to know if they change. So definitely a self breast exam, starting at the age of 20, getting familiar with you myself so then you will know what’s wrong, if something should be wrong or out of place. “

Mammography is the most common screening test for breast cancer. 

Sommer said, “It’s an x -ay of the inside of your breasts. So it finds the tumors that are too small to feel. If you do feel a bump or a lump, you can tell them mammography tech when you go an area of concern so then they can concentrate on that area and have the radiologist look at that area.”

MRIs can also detect abnormalities. 

Sommer said, “MRIs are different. If you have an abnormal mammogram, first of all a mammogram is really good at finding a particular, I mean, it’s finding all different types of breast cancer, but there’s one called ductal carcinoma where it’s an actual tumor in the breast duct. In some women, it can become a very invasive cancer. Mammography picks that up and that’s important.”

A breast ultrasound could also be scheduled. 

Sommer said, “If you feel a bump or a lump, and it’s not seen on mammography, and you can feel it, they’ll send you for an ultrasound. Sometimes you’ll have a mammography and they see something on the mammography, so they will correlate it with an ultrasound. They usually come hand in hand when there is a suspicion of an abnormal lump in your breast. They’ll do the mammogram, and then they’ll always follow up with an ultrasound. Then depending on that sometimes you might need an MRI of the breast. An MRI is a magnet radio waves and it takes several different pictures of the body. So in this case, it would be the breast. It’s also used as a screening tool for women who have high risk of breast cancer.”

Early detection is the key. 

Sommer said, “Ultrasound is good to differentiate between like a fluid filled cyst versus a mass. So when you do ultrasound, you can tell the difference between a mass and a cyst better than a mammogram.”

If something is found, it may be removed and a biopsy may be done. 

Sommer said, “Depending on what they see, what they find, they’ll do a breast biopsy, which is a minimally invasive procedure that removes a sample of the abnormal tissue. Biopsies can be done anywhere in the body. If it comes back that it needs a bigger incision, then you might need to have it surgically removed, like a lumpectomy.”

The biopsy is done while the patient is on his or her stomach and the surgery is performed below the table. 

Sommer said, “That is usually done at the hospital with the radiologist. We will send a patient there first because they just need to get a sample.”

There are different types of biopsies, including needle biopsies, corneal breast biopsy, and ultrasound guide biopsy. 

Sommer said, “A corneal biopsy is recommended when you have a nodule that is usually only or mostly clearly seen on the ultrasound. You don’t need anesthesia, it’s usually done by the radiologist. So, we would send you to the hospital. They do a local anesthetic and a small incision with an ultrasound guided needle is inserted and they will take pieces of the tissue that is the area concern and we will send that off for testing.”

If you have an abnormality that’s best seen on a mammogram, and the stereotactic biopsy will be performed. 

Sommer said, “They compress the area and also giving you local anesthesia, which is lidocaine like you get at the dentist and then they use a needle with a little suction to remove the tissue.”

Cyst aspiration is also an option. 

Sommer said, “Sometimes women get it’s called like a simple cyst. It’s a fluid filled cyst. It could or could not depend like on a woman’s cycle, if they’re still in childbearing years. They usually will absorb, but sometimes they don’t and they can become big and painful. We could do a needle aspiration. That’s usually with an ultrasound. Sometimes we do it at the office, it depends. Sometimes it’ll be done at the hospital. You can remove the fluid. A lot of times if it looks abnormal, if it’s not clear fluid, if there’s a suspicion of either infection, or maybe some other abnormality, we could send it to pathology for confirmation, just to make sure nothing further needs to be done.”

Information on self breast exams are online here: www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breastselfexam

Sommer said, “It’s a very good tool. If you don’t know how to do a breast exam. If you’re younger and you’re listening, that website will give you direction on how to do it, how to perform it, which is important and usually it’s done, if I remember correctly, a week after your period or two. Don’t do it during your menstrual cycle if you’re still on your cycle.” 

Breast self exams should be done once a month. 

Men can also get breast cancer. 

Sommer said, “If you’re a male and you have an abnormal lump, sometimes you can have a benign cyst in your breast, however men, it can be more aggressive because there’s less tissue. So it’s really important if you are male, and you do have lumps or bumps in your breast to seek medical attention.”