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Early Detection: We Still Have a Long Way to Go!

Dr. Michele J. Doughty, Author Brown Bag Expressions. Did you know that numerous studies document that the earlier breast cancer is discovered, the better the outcomes will be? Breast cancer when found early has a projected 100% chance of a 5-year survival rate. Conversely, the later breast cancer is diagnosed, the 5-year survival rate decreases. In 2013, the percent of women 40 years of age and over who had a mammogram was 66.8% (CDC,2016). This means about 34% of women 40 and over did not avail themselves to early detection services. According to the American Cancer Society the following is observed related to the 5-year survival rate.

The 5-year relative survival rate for women with stage 0 or stage I breast cancer is close to 100%.

The 5-year relative survival rate is about 93% for women with stage II breast cancer.

The 5-year relative survival rate for stage III breast cancers is about 72%. Stage III can also be effectively treated.

The 5-year relative survival rate for women with stage IV or metastatic breast cancers that have spread to other parts of the body have a 5-year relative survival rate of about 22%.

The 5-year survival rates shines a spotlight on the importance of early detection. Early detection saves and extends lives, therefore a few important things are important to consider:

The five-year survival rates are projections, it doesn't mean that if you acquire breast cancer you will not live beyond 5-years, because many individuals diagnosed have lived healthy and cancer free lives. In the United States we currently have 2.8 million survivors when mean treatment is helping.

First, know your family history, if you have a parent or sibling with breast cancer it increases your risk for breast cancer.

Second, only 5% to 10% of breast cancers are hereditary, therefore it is important to understand that other factors can increase risk, such as obesity, diet, chemicals and hormonal treatments (HRT, birth control).

Third, make sure you get your biannual or annual mammogram between the ages of 40-50, mammogram are used to detect breast cancer. The average age for the diagnosis of breast cancer in women is 61, for African American women it is 58.

Fourth, know that women under the age of 40 do and will get breast cancer, therefore do not think that breast cancer only affects older women.

Fifth, know that men also do and will get breast cancer, about 2600 men are diagnosed each year.

Sixth, if you feel a lump make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible, instead of waiting, it could save your life.

Seventh, breast cancer affects all nationalities, studies show when Asian women migrate to the U.S. their risk for breast cancer increases by 3x. African American and Hispanic women have the highest mortality rates from breast cancer.

Make sure you do the research, become knowledgeable of what affects your body. Treatment options have improved over the many decades. There are multiple ways to treat breast cancer when found early. In addition, there are many controversial issues related to the use of the mammography, however the importance things is to weigh each benefit v. risk carefully. Overall, maintaining a healthy diet, a daily exercise routine, lowering body weight and reducing stress has been proved to lower risk and/or reoccurrence of breast cancer. Please take a few moments and review this video on screening mammography. Sincerely, Dr. Michele J. Doughty

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