It’ll never (could) happen to me! – The value of regular screenings and early detection.

Posted on: October 13th, 2014 by JayHawkPharmacyBlogger

In honor of October being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we at Jayhawk Pharmacy are dedicating our blog to a four-part series on breast cancer awareness.  The power of early detection is well-documented across medical journals and other cancer-related articles; the longer cancer goes undiagnosed, the higher the mortality rate.  Actress Ann Jillian said it best when she said, “There can be life after breast cancer. The prerequisite is early detection.”  The third part of our four-part series will be discussing the value of regular screenings and early detection of breast cancer. 

Breast Cancer Screening Methods
There are a number of screening methods out there, but only the mammogram is universally accepted, amongst medical professionals in the field of oncology, as an official and accurate detection method.  Other, less official/accurate, methods include self-exams, MRI’s and thermography but should not be used independently, nor should they replace an official mammogram.

Breast Cancer Screening Frequency
With a one-in-eight chance of developing breast cancer as a female in the U.S, one can never be too cautious when it comes to the frequency of breast cancer screenings.    In their 2013-2014 Breast Cancer Facts & Figures Report, The American Cancer Society says, “Recommended screening intervals are based on the duration of time a breast cancer is detectable by mammography before symptoms develop.”  The report also mentions that studies show regular mammograms can reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer by as little as 15-20% and as much as 33.33%. While there are some differing opinions on the frequency of clinical exams before the age of 40, most sources agree that a person, of average risk for developing breast cancer, should have a routine clinical breast exam performed at least every three years.  After the age of 40, sources suggest a yearly clinical exam and mammogram due to the positive correlation between older age and increased risk.

The value of Early Breast Cancer Detection
Early detection can be life-saving.  With the way cancer functions and spreads, the more it is able to develop, the harder it is to stop and cure.  A study by the National Cancer Institute showed its results from a survival study based on what stage the cancer was in when it was detected. 

As you can see, the mortality rate starts increasing at an increasing rate (21%) once a cancer progresses into stage 3 undiagnosed, and an alarming rate (50%) when it progresses into stage 4.
Join us next week as we discuss the breast cancer treatment options. 

*Source: American Cancer Society Report – Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2013-2014 http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research/documents/document/acspc-042725.pdf 

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