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Breast cancer: Early diagnosis is crucial

By   /   October 27, 2010  /   Comments

One in eight American females is projected to develop breast cancer during her lifetime. Seventy-five percent of breast cancer patients have no identifiable risk factor aside from gender.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it is appropriate to consider what one can do to prevent breast cancer and facilitate early diagnosis.

Many cancers are preventable through lifestyle choices. It is known that regular alcohol consumption increases the risk of breast cancer as does post-menopausal estrogen hormone therapy.  Maintenance of a healthy weight and regular exercise reduces breast cancer risk. Furthermore, for those at higher risk there are medications such tamoxifen and raloxifene (Evista) that can significantly reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. Particularly important is regular screening with mammography beginning at age 40 and repeated annually for those with average risk, which includes most of the women who ultimately develop breast cancer. Cure and long-term survival is substantially improved when breast cancer is diagnosed early.

A woman should be aware of her breasts and note changes such as development of a mass, tenderness, and nipple discharge or swelling. Any changes should be evaluated by a physician promptly. At Phoebe Cancer Center, we prefer to see cancer prevented through lifestyle choices and when appropriate for high-risk women, medications. However, when breast cancer does develop and is diagnosed in the earliest stages cure rates are quite high.

Treatments for breast cancer continue to evolve and improve. We now have molecularly-targeted treatments which have prolonged survival and increased cure rates for certain types of breast cancers. Breast cancer is not a single disease and one treatment for every cancer is no longer appropriate. The genetic makeup of the cancer determines its responsiveness to specific targeted medications which are increasingly becoming available through pharmaceutical research. These new developments are increasing survival and improving the quality of life for breast cancer patients.

Phillip L. Roberts, M.D.

Albany

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Comments

  1. Truth B Known says:

    The worst thing someone can do,that knows nothing about breast cancer,id to come up to someone and say they know how you feel.I have had this happen so much that i just had enough the other day.And said some things maybe i should not have.But please dont say that to anyone,unless you have gone through it.It s very hard and hurts.Untill the day it happened to be for the umtenth time,i was hurting and upset.And i let the person know real fast not to say they know how i feel.It s better just to say my Prayers are with you.It is hard on women when they lose a part of there selfs.Try to be kinder.

About the author

Owner / Editor / Writer

Tom Knighton is the publisher of The Albany Journal. In November, 2011, he became the first blogger to take over a newspaper anywhere in the world. In August of 2012, he made the difficult decision to take the Journal out of print circulation and become an online news agency, a first for the Albany area.

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