Early Detection is the First step to Prevention

The month of October is dedicated to spreading breast cancer awareness. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

Women can increase the likelihood of surviving breast cancer, if the disease is detected early.

A mammogram is an X-ray in detecting breast cancer in its earlier stages.

A mammogram procedure compresses the breasts between two surfaces to spread out the breast tissue. The x-ray captures the image and then the image is displayed on screen for the doctor to examine.

Breast cancer treatments are progressing and new options are available for people to get treated, but it is still best to know what treatment is right for the patient.

The disease ranges through four stages, with four being the most aggressive.

Carmelia Leo, from Tallahassee was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer last February, she reflected on when she got her initial diagnosis.  

“My doctor recommended that I have a full routine check,”  Leo said. “I missed the appointment three times. When I did make it to the appointment, I had found out I had cancer.”

Women with an average risk factor for breast cancer should begin mammograms at age 40, and women with a high risk factor of breast cancer should take initiative and start getting regular screenings before the age of 40, according The American Cancer Society .

Latonya Johnson, a registered nurse in Tallahassee said that women should not put off going to get regular mammogram screenings, especially if it runs in the family.

“For those with breast cancer running in their family, they should feel more inclined to get regular checks,” Johnson said. “Some women don’t realize the importance of mammography screenings and how it can increase their chance of survival if caught in the beginning stages.”      

Typically, lumps are benign, however, to be sure tests such as an ultrasound or MRI can be performed. If the mass is solid, a professional would recommend having a biopsy procedure to check for the cancer disease.

Maya Jefferson, an employee at Mayo Clinic, expressed that breast cancer is a serious disease, athough, she shows no risks or symptoms, she realized that she should be conscious.

“Not only do I see patients who have cancer, colleagues of mine have shared that they have dealt with breast cancer,” Jefferson said, “It makes me want to be more accountable for my health even at a young age.”

If one is unable to get to the doctor to have a screening done, self-breast examinations are also recommended. If any abnormalities are present, seek professional assistance.