Don’t let breast cancer sneak up on you

Spc. Todd Goodman
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

Australian singer Kylie Minogue and Nancy Reagan both had it. So did
singer Carly Simon and former “Charlie’s Angel” Jaclyn Smith. It is
neither fame nor fortune, but breast cancer.

Breast cancer affects about one in eight women. Once it gets a foothold
in a woman’s tissue it is its character to spread to other organs and
bones. Doctor’s say the best way to ensure a healthy and full recovery
is to discover it early and immediately start treatment.

“Early detection leads to better outcomes, said Maj. Anthony Fadell,
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center medical oncologist. “Self examination
and mammograms are our best opportunity to catch it early.

Naturally, a breast self examination is cheaper and more accessible than a full-blown mammogram … and it is easy to do.

“You are feeling for a small lump or any abnormality in the tissue,” he
said. “Some people will present with a skin lesion around the nipple
area or a discharge from the nipple that tends to be bloody.”

The lump typically is the size of a marble, which will be found either
in the breast tissue or in the armpit area. It is important to catch it
before it roots itself in the tissue, thus going from premalignant to
an invasive form of cancer. The more advanced the cancer is, the more
surgery and chemotherapy will be needed.

“Waiting a long time between the diagnosis and treatment could mean the
difference between a Lumpectomy, surgical procedure where the mass is
removed with some surrounding tissue as opposed to losing the entire

Of course, that is provided breast removal gets all of the cancer
before it has a chance to spread, which it has a tendency to do.

“If the cancer is left unchecked it will spread through the blood from
the breast  to bones, the liver or wherever it decides to spread,”
said Major Fadell.
Unfortunately, experts have not determined how to prevent it, because it is relative to hormone variations.

“Women have breast cancer,” he said. “We have prostate cancer. It is
very hormonal. There’s not much we can say to advise you, like, ‘Well,
if you take this vitamin you won’t get it.’ The main message to get out
is early detection. I cannot emphasize this enough.”