Screenings and self-exams key to early detection

by Capt. Laura Segovia 86th Medical Squadron

October is breast cancer awareness month. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States, second only to skin cancer. Overall, females have a one in eight lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. The mortality rates have dramatically declined since 1989 due to early detection and improvements in treatments. There are many factors that influence a woman’s risk for developing breast cancer, some of which include: age, family history, and age at time of first childbirth.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast self-awareness is important for every woman. This ensures women are familiar with the normal appearance and feel of their breasts. Breast self-awareness is part of the screening process which helps women discern when to be seen for an abnormal finding.

All professional organizations agree that the best screening method to detect breast cancer is mammography, which is one of the methods used at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. At this time, LRMC utilizes digital mammography, which stores the image on the computer for radiologist to review. The decision of when to start screening, the frequency of screening and discontinuation of screening should be done through a shared decision making process incorporating the individual’s background and preferences while weighing the risks and benefits of screening, according to American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2016.

Woman who are over 40 with no breast-related problems or family history of breast cancer can self-refer themselves for a mammogram by calling the Mammogram Hotline at LRMC at 590-6331. An experienced specialist will provide initial screening with a variety of questions to ensure the correct appointment is scheduled. Mammogram screening takes place on both Monday and Friday. Women can also have this screening test ordered by their primary care manager or woman’s health provider. For further questions or concerns regarding your breast health, contact your primary care or woman’s health provider.