Breast Cancer Awareness Month, signs and support

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO)—October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. One percent of men will also be diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Early detection is key. So we recommend any woman who is 40 or older get an annual mammogram. And then if you’re under 40 we recommend clinical breast exams by a physician at least every 3 years,” says Kimberly Burrows, the South Carolina and North Carolina Executive Director for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Burrows is also a breast cancer survivor.

Dr. Joe Stephenson, an oncologist with Prisma Health’s Breast Cancer Prevention Clinic, says if you find something abnormal during a self-examination don’t hesitate to see a physician.

“A lot of people associate cancer with pain, and that’s right in a different setting but in someone who has a breast legion, in all probability won’t have pain associated with it. So don’t let that deter a patient from having an evaluation. So if you feel an abnormal mass you should have it evaluated by your physician,” says Dr. Stephenson.

Burrows says breast cancer deaths have decreased by 42% since 1989, but inequities in care sometimes based on race and economic status still exist.

“According to our scientific advisory board, nearly one third of breast cancer deaths could be prevented just by having access to high quality health care,” says Burrows.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation reports that Hispanic and Latina women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer later than white women, uninsured women have lower rates of breast cancer screening compared to those with health insurance, and lesbian and bisexual women get fewer breast cancer screenings due to fear of discrimination, having negative experiences with health care providers, or health insurance coverage rates.

Dr. Stephenson finds that some increased risk factors for breast cancer include a person’s genetic history, routine alcohol use, obesity, and long term use of estrogen replacement therapy.

He says a part of Prisma Health’s mission is moving forward in breast cancer prevention. “We incorporate nutrition, exercise, imaging technology, genetics, and medicinal intervention and with that combination, we can reduce the instances of breast cancer by nearly half.”

If you or someone you love are diagnosed with breast cancer, Dr. Stephenson and Burrows agree that hope and support are always available.

Categories: Local News, National News