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    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | October 2nd, 2016


    We can use this time to ask ourselves – what we are doing to educate ourselves about breast cancer.  Breast cancer is the most common cancer that women may face in their lifetime (except for skin cancer). With 1 in 8 women being diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, our chances of knowing someone or being diagnosed with breast cancer is real.

    The good news is that there has been a decrease in death due to breast cancer in most women. When it comes to ethnicity and race, all groups of women have seen a decrease in death due breast cancer except for American Indian/Alaska Natives.  Despite the decrease, black women still have the highest death rate of all racial and ethnic groups.

    The best fighting chance is to try as much to decrease the risk factors that we have control of and to detect breast cancer early.

    Here is what you can do:

    1. Download the free e-book, What Every Woman Needs to Know, on the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. website. It is a quick read with wonderful information.
    2. Be aware of changes in your body – Breast Self-Awareness – If you feel a lump in your breast, if you notice any bloody nipple discharge or a milky discharge unrelated to breastfeeding and or breast pain unrelated to your menstrual cycle – SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT TO SEE YOUR DOCTOR – this is regardless of your age and regardless of whether you had a normal mammogram or recent exam by your doctor. DO NOT IGNORE THESE ABNORMAL CHANGES.
    3. GET YOUR SCREENING MAMMOGRAM – For most women this will be yearly starting at age 40, however if you have a family history of breast cancer, it might be younger. If you are younger, a breast ultrasound may be ordered as well because younger women have dense breasts. If you have any symptoms like a lump or pain, you should get a diagnostic mammogram. This is different from a screening mammogram. More images are taken with a diagnostic mammogram.
    4. MAKE SURE THAT YOU FOLLOW UP ON YOUR RESULTS. You should know your result within one week of a mammogram. If you do not get your result in a timely manner, call your doctor to get your result. If the result is abnormal, follow up with your doctor immediately, you might need additional testing or may be referred to a breast specialist.

    I said it last year and I will say it again – WE CAN ALL MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST BREAST CANCER. Share the information. Encourage your friends and relatives of the right age to get a mammogram. If your friend or relatives tells you they feel a lump in their breast, encourage them to see a doctor. If you know someone that has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, offer your assistance, sometimes all they need is a hug or an ear (to listen). If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, please know that you are not alone and there are people that love you but are not sure what they can do – tell them what they can do to help you.

    With the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are supposed to cover mammograms without any cost sharing, meaning it should be free. If you do not have insurance, the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program provide access to breast cancer screening to low-income, uninsured and underinsured women.

    For additional information on breast cancer that includes risk factors and prevention, you can visit – The American Cancer Society or the CDC.

    I have a confession – while writing this post, I realized I am past due for my mammogram. I will schedule to get it done.



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