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Early detection key to treating breast cancer

Oct 2, 2020

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, know your risk factors

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TUCSON – October is breast cancer awareness month and Carondelet Health Network reminds women in the community that it’s important to schedule regular mammograms and understand the risks of breast cancer.

As a breast cancer survivor herself, Dr. Karen Hendershott, medical director at St. Mary’s Hospital Breast Center understands the experience patients go through when scheduling mammograms and learning their diagnosis.

“There are many fears about breast cancer and misunderstandings about the real risk,” Dr. Hendershott said. “Many people believe that you have to have a family history of breast cancer to get mammograms and that is not true.”

Nearly 85 percent of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 1 in every 8 women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, resulting in over 41,000 deaths each year.

“It is important to know how your body and breasts should look and feel,” Dr. Hendershott said. “The most prominent signs of breast cancer may be a change in breast size, pain in the breast area, discharge, or a lump in the breast or underarm.”

Every woman should perform breast self-exams at home and keep an eye out for abnormalities and schedule regular screenings. Early diagnosis of breast cancer and many other types of cancer can greatly increase the chance of a successful treatment.

“Whether you are at an increased risk for cancer, or you just missed your regular screening mammogram due to COVID-19, now is the time to call your physician and get back on the schedule,” Dr. Hendershott said.

For more information on The Breast Center at St. Mary’s Hospital, click here.

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