WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — While breast cancer can’t always be avoided, early detection can help catch it before it gets worse.
As part of breast cancer awareness month, United Regional Health Care System is pointing out key components that could make treatment in the long run, successful.
They say many things come in threes and the same goes for preventing breast cancer by discovering it early.
“I have a part, you have a part and your healthcare provider has a part,” URHCS Women’s Imaging Coordinator Susan Young said.
Part one is monthly self-breast exams which allows you to notice any changes in the breast tissue in between doctor’s visits.
“When you do this on a routine, monthly basis, you’ll get familiar with what’s normally there so that you’ll recognize anything new or different,” Young said.
Young said next comes a professional clinical breast exam by your healthcare provider which should happen once a year.
“They’re gonna have this skill and the expertise to be able to recognize changes that possibly you might not be in tune with examing your breast once a month,” Young said.
Finally, what you might think of most often when it comes to breast cancer detection and what Young said is most crucial: mammograms.
URHCS offers 3-D mammograms, the most detailed machine for catching even the smallest of tumors.
“We recommend women start annual screening mammograms at age 40,” Young said. “Some women are going to have a strong family history, their guidelines are going to be expedited by about five years.”
Finding cancer early is what could be the difference in if it’s curable or not.
“A radiologist is going to sit down, he’s going to look at your mammogram and he is going to be able to examine each millimeter of breast tissue and be able to find the smallest, tiniest changes,” Young said.
What may surprise some is that a majority of patients who have breast cancer, can’t trace it back to their lineage.
“Everybody seems to think that ‘I don’t need a mammogram every year because I have no family history of breast cancer,'” Young said. “But only 1/4 of breast cancers that are detected had family history, that means 75% did not.”
There’s no one step without the other. It’s a three-part process that could save your life.
Although mammograms start at age 40, it’s important to exam yourself beginning at a younger age and if you do notice something is new or different, let your doctor know.
United Regional has many resources on how to do a self-examination and how to set up an appointment. Click here for more information.