“Breast Cancer Awareness Month gives us an opportunity to salute cancer survivors and to shine a bright light on cancer research,” said Dr. Lisa Chism, who works at the Women’s Wellness Center at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit. “More people need to realize that cancer is not a death sentence.”
There is about a 95% cure rate for women with stage zero breast cancer. And there is a high cure rate for stage one and stage two cancer as well, according to Dr. Chism.
“I think women really need to be more aware of their breasts. They shouldn’t have a fear about checking them regularly,” she said. “More women need to know that there’s no wrong way to check your breasts. It’s more about being aware of changes like skin color, size changes and tenderness.”
For preventive care, women should consult their doctor to learn how often to get a mammogram. A mammogram is an X-ray screening that radiologists use to detect breast cancer. It’s also good practice for women to perform self-examinations at least once a month.
“I think more women should be aware of their screening schedule. For example, if a direct family member detected breast cancer at age 40, then you should start your routine mammograms at age 30 –10 years earlier,” explained Dr. Chism, who has worked as a nurse practitioner for 20 years.
According to Johns Hopkins Medical Center, 40% of breast cancer cases are detected through self-exams. Most experts refer to a five-step process for self-exams. Education is an important first step to breast cancer awareness.
“It’s more than one disease we’re dealing with. There are many types of breast cancers out there,” said Dr. Chism. “We help women to understand that there’s not just one.”
The breast cancer type is important in determining which treatment is best. Common types include triple negative breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer and metastatic breast cancer, among others.
Thanks to the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute’s state-of-the-art radiology department, Dr. Chism and her colleagues are able to provide a quick turnaround to clients in need.
“It really does matter where patients have their mammograms done,” she explained. “Because of our radiology department, we can provide same day biopsies and we also refer some patients for genetic testing.”
There are many funding resources for women who want but can’t afford to get screened for breast cancer. These include Michigan’s B-Triple-C program, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc., and the American Cancer Society.
“Women should not let a lack of resources stop them from getting checked out,” Dr. Chism emphasized.
Spread the word about mammograms and encourage communities, organizations, families and individuals to get involved in efforts to fight breast cancer. If you or someone you know want to learn more about early detection and good breast care, visit the American Cancer Society at Cancer.org.
If so, subscribe now for tips on home, money, and life delivered straight to your inbox.