DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and health professionals are reminding women not to forego screenings because of the pandemic.
Chief Medical Officer with Buckeye Health Plan, Brad Lucas, told 2 NEWS screenings are down 94 percent this year, a statistic that is concerning for a number of reasons.
“It’s the second leading reason for cancer death in women and it’s preventable. There are cancers that come suddenly, and there’s not much we can do about. Breast cancer is very much identifiable at an early stage.”
He further explained that the benefits of getting breast screenings likely outweigh the risks, even taking the pandemic into consideration.
“A mammogram is going to identify 85 percent of those cancers and it’s frankly going to identify it much sooner than you might on a self-breast exam or just happening to notice that something is changed,” he said.
Medical Director for Kettering Breast Evaluation Centers, Meghan Musser, added, young women should be monitoring their health too, and shouldn’t only be thought of an issue for older women.
“We really are trying to find women at a younger age and screen them in terms of their personal and family history to determine if they are [at] higher risk of developing breast cancer, because [these women] really should start screening earlier than age 40.”
She said women should look for a few signs to determine if there any abnormalities:
“Anytime they feel a palpable lump anywhere in their breast, if they notice focal area of skin thickening, if they notice any changes to the skin itself like a rash per se, or focal pain. Those are really kind of the big ones that we don’t want you to ignore.”
Both Musser and Lucas agreed that if a woman is experiencing any of these symptoms, the wrong thing to do is waiting to see a doctor.
“The longer that we wait, the larger that the cancer can be. And the larger that it grows, [it] potentially could be at a more advanced stage, and could require a more extensive treatment,“ explained Musser.
Lucas added, “COVID has been such a tragedy. Let’s not let it be even more of a tragedy by not doing the things that we know work to take care of ourselves.”
Both health professionals said doing a self-breast exam at the same time every month can help women become more familiar with their tissue, making it easier to spot abnormalities. They’re encouraging women to meet with their doctor at least once a year for preventive care and to discuss risk factors that can help determine the proper screenings schedule for each individual.
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