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Q: How important is breast cancer awareness?

Posted October 02, 2013 in Advice Column, Perry

A: This year, it is estimated that more than 230,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and approximately 80 percent of these women will not have a family history of the disease. National Breast Cancer Awareness month this October serves as a reminder to all women that early detection is key for successful treatment of this disease.

Women should perform self-breast exams on a monthly basis and have a clinical breast exam yearly (for women age 40 and older) or every three years (for women age 20 – 39).

If you or your health care provider finds a lump during a breast exam, don’t panic. In eight out of every 10 cases, lumps are non-cancerous.

Regular mammograms are also a great tool for detecting breast cancer early. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast used to detect any abnormalities and evaluate changes. While some women may experience some mild discomfort such as pressure or pinching feeling during the procedure, it only lasts a few seconds. In most cases, the complete mammogram process is completed in 20 minutes.

If you have any questions about breast health or routine screenings, contact your health care provider immediately to schedule an appointment. He or she will be able to perform a clinical breast exam and will recommend a mammogram if needed. Your health care provider can also discuss any concerns about risk factors and establish a schedule for follow-up care as needed.

Information provided by Mercy Family Care – Perry, 616 10th St., 465-2575.

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