October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October 5, 2017

After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women.  In fact, one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.  With October designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, health professionals at Colordo Plains Medical Center (CPMC) want to bring attention to this disease.

"We want all of the women in our community to understand their risk, be alert to the signs and symptoms, and recognize the crucial role that healthy lifestyles and early detection play in fighting breast cancer,' states Glenn Griffin, CPMC Director of Imaging.

Among the risk factors for breast cancer, aging is probably the largest.  Most breast cancers are found in women age 50 and older.  Other risk factors include having a family history of breast cancer, a lack of physical activity and excess weight, or obesity after menopause, among others.  While most breast cancer is found in older women, it's important to remember that most women have some risk factors, including younger women.  Women under the age of 45 account for about 11 percent of all new U.S. cases of the disease.

Breast cancer symptoms can come in different forms, whereas some women with breast cancer have no signs or symptoms.  Warning signs can include:  a new lump in the breast or armpit, thickening or swelling of part of the breast, breast skin irritation, breast pain and discharge other than breast milk.  If any signs or symptoms are presnt, one should see her doctor right away.

"The great news is that there are things you can do to help reduce your risk for breast cancer and fight it through early detection," notes Griffin.

Regular exercise, adequate sleep, limited alcohol intake, and limited exposure to chemicals that can cause cancer are great ways to not only lower risk, but increase chance of survival if cancer occurs.

Breast cancer screenings are an excellent first line of defense in the fight against breast cancer.  Early detection means easier treatment.  The best way to detect breast cancer is with a mammogram.

To make this type of screening more convenient for patients, Colorado Plains Medical Center is hosting Monday Night Mammo Nights in October.  Evening appointments on Monday nights in October are available between 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.  Additonally, a tailgate party with snacks, a televised football game, and game day contests with special prizes, are all part of the experience.  Any woman who has a mammogram performed in October at CPMC is also eligible to win one of several special door prize gift baskets that the hospital will be giving away.

"We wanted to celebrate women's health this month.  Therefore, we thought that by offering an upbeat, supportive atmosphere, it might encourage women who have been reluctant about scheduling a mammogram to go ahead and make an appointment this month," says Griffin.

Clinical breast exams and self-exams are also good secondary methods for identifying warning signs like lumps or breast pain.  An individual's medical provider can recommend the best methods for breast cancer screenings and how often one should be tested.

Breast cancer is a very real risk for women, but reducing risk through a healthy lifestyle and early detection through regular screenings can help in the fight against it.

For more informtion on breast cancer risks, symptoms, and screening methods, visit https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/. Call 1-800-424-DOCS (3627) to find a doctor to discuss any concerns about breast care.  A screening mammogram at Colorado Plains Medical Center can be scheduled by calling 970-542-3326.