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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Learn how you can reduce your risk of breast cancer.

1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

Watch and listen to Dr. Brittany Splittgerber, General Surgeon at the Mason City Clinic talk through the importance of mammograms as well as options for treatment of breast cancer in women.

 

 

Transcript

 

Brittany Splittgerber, MD (General Surgeon):

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women. About one in every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

What has probably made the largest impact in breast cancer survival has been improved screening. We’ve seen breast cancer mortality improve significantly since the 1970s with improved screening, as well as improved therapy. We know that women who start with mammography screening annually around age 40, do have a improved survival if they are diagnosed with breast cancer. With improved screening, the breast cancer that we identify frequently now as an early breast cancer confined to the breast. So when patients most often come to me in clinic, we’re talking about how to treat this breast cancer. For early breast cancers, the type of treatment depends on what type of breast cancer it is as well as the stage at diagnosis.

If I’m meeting a patient with an early breast cancer frequently, we talk about the surgical options, which there are two basic option. One is a mastectomy where we remove the entire breast, versus a lumpectomy, usually combined with radiation to remove that location of cancer out of the best tissue. When we do surgery, we often recommend checking for a spread to the lymph nodes utilizing a sentinel lymph node biopsy.

How we approach breast cancer is through a multidisciplinary approach, utilizing surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy and radiation therapy. Usually patients receive a combination of these therapies to treat their breast cancer. We know that utilizing this multidisciplinary approach improves breast cancer survival. Once the breast cancer has been treated, you’re followed closely at a cancer center for five years to check for any evidence of recurrence. Breast cancer itself does have good survival. Most stage one breast cancers have a survivor right close to 100%. What has probably made the largest impact in breast cancer survival has been regular mammography screening. It’s recommended for most women to start mammography screening at age 40 and to continue it annually. We know that this allows us to identify breast cancers that would not be identified by physical exam alone earlier, and allows us to treat the breast cancers at an earlier stage. 3D mammography has improved our breast cancer screening. This technology provides us better views of the breast so we can identify cancers and lesions earlier.

 

 

 

 

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