Breast Cancer Awareness

The most important step to reducing your risk for breast cancer is prevention/early screening.

RAPID CITY, S.D. – October is the month known for Breast Cancer Awareness – to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and a cure. It’s also used educate people about the importance of early screenings.

Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women. Approximately two women are diagnosed with breast cancer every day in South Dakota. The good news is that patients can survive it if it is found and treated early.

A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast and is the best tool for early detection. It can find cancer, like a lump, when it is very small, even too small to feel.

The best way to determine if you are at average or high risk for breast cancer is to talk with your healthcare provider about your family history and your personal medical history.

Jamie Madden, senior director of imaging for Regional Health Rapid City Medical Clinic Flormann Street, says, “The best care is to go to your primary care provider, because there are so many variables, and it really just depends on your whole health history. So I wouldn’t want anyone to get concerned if they feel a thickness or a more dense area, because it could just be related to their menstrual cycle or where they are in menopause.”

In general, women at high risk for breast cancer include women with a family history of breast cancer in a first-degree relative (mother, sister or daughter), women with an inherited gene mutation and women with a personal history of breast cancer. With that being said, many still get the disease with no family history.

The risk does increase with age. Most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50. However, younger women still run a risk and are encouraged to get yearly physicals that include a breast exam by their doctor. Madden says, “One of the biggest things now is that women are doing screening exams more frequently than they used to, so we are finding the cancer in younger women more often than we would because we are more aware. And so that is what is important … making the community aware that they should be coming in for the screenings – we have the technology available now.”

Lifestyle choices that can keep your risk of developing breast cancer as low as it can be are: maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol, eating nutritious food and not smoking.

At the end of the day, you know your body better than anyone. And if something feels off, getting it checked out will give you a peace of mind.

Regional Health Spearfish Hospital offers 3D mammography, which is the newest technology that improves early detection and treatment. After the first of the year,  the Regional Health Medical Clinic Flormann Street will offer the 3D imagery.

Click here for more information on 3D mammography.

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