Be aware: Early detection of breast cancer saves lives
Jessica Brewer, LMH Health
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and it’s important to learn the signs, prevention and treatment options. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it is also a month to shed light on the importance, the facts and education on breast cancer.
Dr. Jennifer Hawasli
Jennifer Hawasli, MD, is a fellowship-trained breast surgeon with Lawrence Breast Specialists, located in the new Women’s Center at LMH Health West Campus. Dr. Hawasli said that in 2020, it is estimated there will be around 270,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer and about 50,000 of non-invasive breast cancer, where the cancer cannot spread to other parts of the body.
“There will be 42,000 breast cancer deaths in 2020 alone,” she said. “It is important to note that breast cancer can occur in men and in people who do not have a family history of any type of cancer, including breast cancer. The disease is more common after menopause, but it also can happen before.”
Dr. Hawasli said we are fortunate that in today’s environment, breast cancer is often caught at an early stage using screening mammograms and is very treatable.
“Women should begin screening for breast cancer at the age of 40,” she said. “If you have a family history of breast cancer, you may need to be screened sooner. Mammograms are one of the best forms of prevention and early detection of breast cancer. It is also important that once a month women of all ages check their breasts for any lumps or bumps, skin changes, dimpling like an orange peel, the nipple pointing in not out, fluid spontaneously coming out of the nipple or new significant breast pain.”
Dr. Jodie Barr
Jodie Barr, DO, an NCI trained physician with LMH Oncology & Hematology Center, said the estimated survival rate for breast cancer is 90%, but this is dependent on the stage of the breast cancer.
“For non-invasive breast cancer, the overall survival rate is 98.9% and for invasive disease it’s 85.7%,” she said. “This data shows the importance of screening and early detection. There are multiple options for women in our community for screening along with programs that provide free screening.”
The LMH Health Foundation offers free mammogram vouchers to women in our community who couldn’t otherwise afford one. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment also sponsors the Early Detection Works program, which offers health education, screening, diagnosis and referral options for women in Kansas without health insurance and who meet income requirements.
“Because of these incredible programs, there should be no barriers for women to have yearly screening mammograms and access to care,” Dr. Barr said. “Breast cancer is a treatable disease. There have been so many exciting advances from prevention to treatment. We are learning how to tailor our treatments to each patient, causing fewer side effects and improving preventative strategies and increasing overall survival rates from this disease.”
Knowing your family’s history of breast cancer, along with other cancers including ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer, is important when thinking about prevention.
LMH Health provides genetic testing at the LMH Oncology & Hematology Center, as well as a high-risk breast cancer screening program to improve early detection.
“In patients with a family history of these cancers, there may be a genetic cause and genetic testing may be warranted,” Dr. Barr said. “If there is a genetic cause, there are many options for prevention and risk reduction for patients as well as their family members.”
Statistics and facts about breast cancer can be overwhelming, but this is why it is important to talk about prevention and treatments. With the unknown nature of breast cancer, it is important not to get discouraged, to take steps for early detection and learn what you can do today to have a healthier tomorrow.
“Breast cancer awareness shouldn’t just happen once a year,” Dr. Barr said. “It is important that we continue to be vigilant in screening and continue to educate women about this disease.”
Jessica Brewer is the social media and digital communications specialist at LMH Health.
Hearts of Gold - at Home
Join us for Hearts of Gold - at Home - hosted by Coach Bill Self and Brian Hanni, the voice of the Jayhawks! Event proceeds will support the LMH Health patient-centered technology initiative, including new robotic surgery equipment and a second cath lab.
Starting October 12 on our live event page, you can bid on spectacular auction items and enter the Dom Perignon champagne raffle, then watch the live program on October 17 at 7 p.m.
Celebrating Hearts of Gold – at Home – makes it possible for the entire community to join us in making Douglas County a destination for healthy living. All who register will be able to participate in our fundraising efforts through the live auction and fund-a-need.
To learn more and register for free online, visit www.LMH.org/HeartsOfGold.