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A topic which is discussed daily in the office is breast cancer. Sadly few women cannot think of a coworker, friend or family member who has not been affected by breast cancer. Discussing a few statistics will bring light to the prevalence of breast cancer.
1) Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women.
2) Breast cancer accounts for 27% of all new cancers in women.
3) A women’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is 1 in 8 ( given that she lives to 80 years of age)
As these numbers are staggering, it is important to understand prevention and screening. There are three components to breast screening
1) Breast Imaging – ACOG recommends annual mammograms starting at age 40. Screening mammogram can frequently detect tumors prior to when they can be palpated. Ultrasound can be used as an adjuvant to mammogram especially in younger patients and to differentiate between solid and cystic masses. MRI is another imaging tool which can be useful is specific instances as an adjunct to mammography in high risk women.
2) Clinical breast exam – A clinical breast exam is performed by a health care provider. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends clinical breast exams every 1 to 3 years for women between ages 20 to 39. After age 40, clinical breast exams should also be performed yearly by a health care provider.
3) Breast self-awareness – Women should be aware of the appearance and feel of their own breasts. This is important because a large portion of breast cancers are detected by women before a clinical exam or a mammography. Women should report any changes in their breasts to their physician.
Each women poses unique breast cancer risks. It is important to assess your own risks and discuss with your doctor at your annual visit. Working together we can help make this dreaded disease less frequent and more survivable.
Best wishes for a healthy and Happy New Year
Dr. Anu Chakraborty MD
Women’s Health Alliance of New Jersey
732 842 8400