August 17 – Breast cancer screening is incredibly important for women everywhere.
Nikki Sommer, a nurse with Key West Surgical Group, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5 FM for Medical Matters this morning.
Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer and second leading cause of cancer death among women.
It’s important once a woman turns 40 to get an annual mammogram.
Prior to that, breast exams should be done. As early as age 20, a woman should have a clinical breast exam every three years.
Sommer said, “It’s just good to know your body and have your physician know you so as the years go on, you can detect any type of difference early on.”
The key to prevention is early detection.
Sommer said, “Mammography is a great way to find small tumors. Sometimes you might not be able to feel them, so that’s why we start at age 40.”
While personal breast exams can be helpful, remember not to put the mammogram off.
October is breast cancer awareness month, so that is a good time to consider getting a mammogram.
Sommer said, “I always say when you turn 40, you can make it like your annual birthday gift to yourself.”
Mike Stapleford of KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM pointed out, “It really is a way of showing you care by encouraging people to heed by these guidelines.”
Mammography is a picture of inside the breast and it can detect small tumors, including those that can become an invasive cancer, so catching those right away is the best option.
MRIs can also be used to detect breast cancer.
Sommer said, “There are women that are at higher risk for breast cancer. I know there’s a lot of talk about the breast cancer genes. Usually that means there’s a strong family history of a first-degree relative such as a mother, daughter, sister with breast cancer. In those situations, your doctor might decide to send you for an MRI of your breast.”
The MRI is different from ultrasound.
If you can feel the lump, but the mammography doesn’t pick it up, then an ultrasound will be performed, and vice versa. Sometimes a woman can feel the lump, she’ll have a mammography, it’s picked up on the mammography and it may be harder to see on the ultrasound.
Sommer said, “At that point then they might discuss about going for a biopsy.”
Ultrasound can also be used to guide a biopsy needle into the area of the breast that needs to be examined.
Sommer said, “In certain cases if we know it’s cancer, it’s showing characteristics of cancer, they might jump to surgery, but usually in most cases, we start with a biopsy and depending on the type of lump, depends on what type of biopsy you have.”
Some biopsies can be done in the office, while others are done using ultrasound guided needles in the hospital. It’s local anesthesia and typically minimal pain and usually takes less than an hour in most cases.
If surgery is done and the cancer is caught early enough, a person may not need any chemotherapy and radiation.
While breast cancer in men is not very common, it does still exist. Men can get a mammography if needed.
Sommer reminded, “You’re the only one that knows your body. Self care is the best care, so just stay on top of your health.”
For more information on how do a self breast exam, click here: https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam
For more information on Key West Surgical Group, click here: https://www.keywestsurgicalgroup.com/