October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
On average, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Breast cancers are commonly found in women ages 55-85, but breast cancer may affect women at any age.
Evan Tummel, MD, is a fellowship-trained breast surgeon with Women’s Care. Dr. Tummel encourages women to maintain a healthy weight with routine exercise and a balanced diet to minimize their risks.
“American Cancer Society encourages women to begin annual mammograms at the age of 40, or as advised by their provider, he said. In fact, women who have a family history of breast cancer may need to be screened even earlier. There is no better screening tool for breast cancer than a mammogram. Starting in their 20’s women should perform monthly breast exams. Self-awareness is important- you know your body.”
A monthly breast self-exam allows women to recognize new lumps, rashes, asymmetry, unusual discharge, or tenderness. If you discover anything new or out of the ordinary during your monthly self-exam, it’s imperative to contact your provider. Delaying care will not make the situation go away. Catching breast cancer in the early stages gives women the best chance of beating cancer. For most women, annual mammography is the best screening method.
Dr. Tummel reminds women, “Today (women) benefit from decades of research on breast cancer. There is no better screening tool for breast cancer than a mammogram.”
When patients have abnormal mammograms, they are referred by their gynecologists or primary care physician to a breast surgeon, like, Dr. Tummel. He will discuss all the treatment options with the patient as he understands this is a scary time for them. According to the American Cancer Society, 5-year average survival rate for all women diagnosed with breast cancer is roughly 90%.
Mammograms and the COVID-19 Vaccine
Some women who receive the COVID-19 vaccine develop swollen lymph notes under their arm on the same side as their vaccine injection. This is the normal reaction to a vaccine, however swollen lymph nodes under the arm can be seen on a mammogram and can be a rare sign of breast cancer. Try to schedule your screening mammogram before your first COVID-19 vaccine dose or at least four weeks after your second vaccine dose. This reduces the chance that swollen lymph nodes from the vaccine will appear on your mammogram. Read more from the Society of Breast Imaging.
The pandemic isn’t over, but routine care cannot be delayed. Women’s Care has adopted enhanced safety practices to keep locations safe and clean. Contact your provider today to schedule your annual mammogram, or if you are experiencing new or concerning breast symptoms.