Treasure your chest: protection means early detection

  • Published
  • By Capt Amy C. Stoots
  • 72nd Medical Group
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual international health campaign designed to raise awareness of breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, there were approximately 230,500 new cases of invasive breast cancer, 57,500 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer and 39,000 breast cancer related deaths in 2011. Although breast cancer death rates have been declining since about 1990, breast cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer. The decreases are believed to be the result of early detection, increased awareness, and improved treatment. The early detection five-year survival rates exceed 95 percent, which offers an excellent incentive for women over 40 to get a yearly mammogram.

All women are at risk for breast cancer, with the risk of getting breast cancer increasing as you age. Most breast cancers and breast cancer deaths occur in women 50 and older with just five percent of all breast cancers occurring in women under age 40. No matter your age, everyone should be familiar with how your breasts look and feel and should also be cognizant of the warning signs of breast cancer.

The Centers for Disease Control lists the following signs as being most common:
· New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit).
· Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
· Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
· Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
· Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
· Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
· Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
· Pain in any area of the breast.

Keep in mind that some of these warning signs can happen with other conditions that are not cancer.

Genetic factors or a family history of breast or other cancers, especially in a mother, sister or daughter, significantly increase a person's chance of developing breast cancer. Women diagnosed at a younger age may have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutation. Women who carry one of these gene mutations have an increased risk of both breast and ovarian cancers.

Non-genetic risk factors for breast cancer include:
· Getting older.
· Starting your menstrual period before 12 years of age.
· Starting menopause after 55 years of age.
· Being older at the birth of your first child.
· Never giving birth.
· Not breastfeeding.
· Treatment with radiation therapy to the breast/chest.
· Being overweight (increases risk for breast cancer after menopause).
· Long-term use of hormone replacement therapy (estrogen and progesterone combined).
· Using any form of birth control pills, also called oral contraceptives.
· Drinking alcohol (more than one drink a day).
· Not getting regular exercise.

Until more is known about preventing breast cancer, early detection and effective treatment offer the best defense against breast cancer mortality. For this reason, it is important for women to get annual screening mammograms. Tinker AFB is offering mobile mammography from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 31. The mobile unit will be parked at the Tinker Exchange and is by appointment only and for those who are symptom free.
If interested in scheduling a mammogram with the mobile unit, call Capt Amy Stoots at 582-6160 or the appointment line at 734-2778. If choosing a different location for your care, contact your women's health provider or primary care manager. Active duty patients require a referral for all mammograms and many mammography providers require a written prescription as well. All non-active duty TRICARE beneficiaries age 40 and over are entitled to one screening mammogram a year. You may go to the network provider of choice without a referral or pre-authorization.

Further information on breast cancer and associated risk factors can be found at www.cdc.gov or www.cancer.org

Below is a list of local mammography providers, keeping in mind that the list may not be all inclusive:
· Breast Imaging of Oklahoma, 844-2601; 2601 Kelly Point Parkway, Suite 101
· Diagnostic Radiology, 348-1900; 902 S. Bryant
· OU Edmond Regional Medical Center, 271-5533; 1 S. Bryant Ave.
Midwest City
· Midwest Regional Breast Care Center, 610-8888; 2825 Parklawn Drive
· Renaissance Physicians, 732-9115; 1800 S. Douglas
· Moore Medical Center, 912-3550; 700 S. Telephone Rd.
· Norman Regional Hospital - Breast Care Center, 307-2290; 901 N. Porter Ave.
Oklahoma City
· Breast Imaging of Oklahoma, 844-2601; 1800 S. Douglas Blvd.
· Breast Center at St. Anthony, 685-6671; 535 NW 9th St. Suite 100 (located in the St. Anthony Medical Plaza)
· Deaconess Hospital, 604-6104; 5501 N. Portland
· Integris Comprehensive Breast Center, 945-0045: 3525 NW 56th
· Integris Southwest Breast Health & Imaging Center, 636-7480: 4401 S. Western
· OU Physicians Breast Institute, 271-4514: 825 NE 25th Street
· Oklahoma Breast Care Center, 755-2273: 13509 N. Meridian, Suite 6
· Integris Canadian Valley Hospital, 717-6875; 1201 Health Center Parkway