For most women, regular mammograms can start at age 50. Some as early as age 40. In many cases such as Kathleen Fraser’s, her first mammogram was in her early 30s, but by then it was too late.
Fraser was diagnosed with stage 3 Breast Cancer at age 32. During her pregnancy, she began to experience cancerous symptoms that went under the radar due to her pregnancy.
“After the diagnosis of cancer, the doctors told me I was very young because they don’t start checking until your 40s and I still would’ve went under the radar,” Fraser said.
Oncologists question whether the treatment for Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS), also known as stage 0 breast cancer, is too aggressive.
“The doctors maybe could’ve caught the cancer at stage 0 but cancer was the furthest thing from my mind during my pregnancy,” Fraser said.
DCIS is the presence of abnormal cells inside a milk duct in the breast. It is considered to be the earliest form of breast cancer.
In some cases the lesions can lead to invasive life threatening cancer.
With the improvement of medical imaging, doctors are able to better inform patients about the disease.
Dr. Saleh Rahman, an associate professor in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences for Florida A&M University explained what is DCIS.
“The traditional treatment for Ductal Carcinoma In Situ was mastectomy. The reason was because in most of the cases like 40 percent of the residual tumor can remain,” Rahman said.
Some doctors agree that breast cancer has the best prognosis when detected at an early stage.
“It also happened in 25-50 percent of cases the cancer can be recurrent, and in some cases it can become an aggressive type of cancer,” Rahman said.
About 12 percent of women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
Kayla Beason, the daughter of Kathleen Fraser, is grateful for her mom and that she is a breast cancer survivor.
“I don’t know where I would be without my mom, I’m thankful for her everyday and that she beat cancer," Kayla said.
Although DCIS is not found to be life threatening, the stage zero breast cancer requires treatment to prevent the spreading of the disease.
The treatment for DCIS may be aggressive for an early stage of breast cancer, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.