Hally™ Healthcast is the monthly wellness podcast from Hally™ health. This month we discuss five things every woman should know about breast cancer. Our guest is Dr. Maria Grosse Perdekamp, an expert on breast cancer and gynecologic malignancies at the Mills Breast Cancer Institute, part of the Carle Cancer Center in Urbana, Illinois. Listen here, or read a quick summary in the article below.
# 1 – Mammograms Save Lives
Mammograms are among the most effective cancer screening tools. They help detect breast cancer early, which is often the key to more successful treatment. Carle recommends women start getting mammograms at age 40 and continue once a year.
“We feel strongly about those screening guidelines,” states Dr. Perdekamp. “Finding breast cancer early on can make a significant difference in the outcome for the patient.”
# 2 – Be Aware of Your Risk Factors
Family history can play a key role in developing breast cancer. If your family has a history of any cancer, but especially of breast or ovarian cancer, you may be at increased risk. Lifestyle can also play a role. If you’re overweight or get little physical exercise, this might increase your chances of getting breast cancer. Research has also shown that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – common in women going through menopause – and dense breasts may be additional risk factors.
# 3 – Look Out for Warning Signs
A lump in the breast or armpit area is the most common warning sign. Another red flag is changes in the nipple, such as bleeding or discharge. When cancer has progressed without diagnosis, symptoms such as weight loss or general malaise can occur.
Dr. Perdekamp urges women to see their healthcare provider whenever something abnormal appears or occurs. “We hope patients make their primary care physician aware that there’s a problem by checking out their breasts regularly; doing self-breast examinations at least once a month.”
# 4 – Screening is Safe
Some women avoid mammograms because they’re worried about radiation exposure. But the amount of radiation is minimal and mammograms are safe. The benefits of detecting and treating breast cancer in its early stages significantly outweighs the exposure to small amounts of radiation.
# 5 – Breast Cancer is Beatable
Breast cancer is diagnosed in varying stages. The earlier cancer is detected, the higher the survival rate. “Because we have mammogram screening, even the more aggressive breast cancers are curable when we find them very early,” says Dr. Perdekamp. The main takeaway messages? Be aware of your risk and get your mammogram every year. And remember that breast cancer is beatable – just ask the millions of women who’ve survived the disease.
Interested in hearing more? Listen to the full interview above. And stay tuned for next month’s episode of the Hally Healthcast.
Want even more information? Check out these additional resources below. And as always, we urge you to talk with your trusted medical provider whenever you need help or guidance.
- Watch this short video from Confluence Health about risk factors for breast cancer.
- Read how research is leading the fight against breast cancer and other cancers in this article by the Carle Foundation.
- Our friends at OSF HealthCare walk you through the top five myths about mammograms.
- Read this inspiring story of one woman’s fight against breast cancer, from our partners at Springfield Clinic.
- And discover more inspirational stories on the blog sites of Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System and Memorial Health System.