Understand Your Breast Cancer Risk

Sponsored by :: Austin Regional Clinic

 

Establishing a Breast Cancer Screening Routine Can Save Your Life
By June D.M. Lien

Breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among women according to the American Cancer Society (behind skin cancer).

Early detection makes all the difference in a breast cancer diagnosis. What you do can make an impact on your life-long health,  like in the recent inspiring case of AMB founder Allison Mack, and also in the case of local ARC patient, Judy O, explained below.

Reminder Letter

In August 2014, Judy received a reminder letter from Austin Regional Clinic letting her know that she was due for a visit. Judy, an ARC patient for over 25 years, had recently seen an ARC specialist and “my blood work came back great and I was in good health so I didn’t think I needed a wellness visit.”

A few weeks later she came across the letter again while cleaning and scheduled an appointment.

“That visit saved my life,” Judy says.

Average Risk or High Risk

During the visit, ARC Family Nurse Practitioner, Sybil Haydon noticed Judy had not had a recent mammogram. Judy followed the recommendation that women at her age did not need routine mammograms. 

Sybil clarified that the recommendation only applied to women with “average risk” for breast cancer. However, Judy had a “significant family history of cancer.”  Sybil recommended a mammogram and ultrasound, just in case.

The next day, Judy had a mammogram at ARC Far West and was told she had tumor tissue in her right breast and in the lymph nodes on her right side.

Judy was diagnosed with breast cancer, underwent treatment, and is now in remission over two years later.

Two More Women

Because of her experience, Judy is an outspoken advocate for breast self-exams. “I hand out the little shower hangers to every woman I talk to,” she says. To date, two of the women she has educated about breast self-exams, have found tumors and are undergoing breast cancer treatment.

“I love people like Judy,” Sybil says. “I do my best to talk people into early detection and prevention. To catch things early in treatable stages.”

What You Can Do

As Sybil and Judy suggest, early detection and prevention is the key to finding and treating breast cancer early. Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a breast cancer screening routine is very important.

Talk to your healthcare professional to see if you are at high risk for breast cancer like Judy. If so, the recommendations below will be different.

Breast Cancer Screening

Breast Self-Exam

  • Monthly, all women age 20 and over.
  • Helps you become familiar with the look and feel of your breasts so that you are aware if anything changes.
  • Can be done after your menstrual period, when breasts aren’t tender or swollen.  If you’re not always regular, do it on the same day every month. 

Clinical Breast Exam

  • Every 3 years for women aged 20 to 39.
  • Annually for women age 40 and over.
  • Performed by a healthcare professional who is trained to recognize many different types of abnormalities and warning signs.
  • Can be performed at annual physical exams.

Mammogram

  • Every year for all women age 40 or over.
  • If you have risk factors for breast cancer, ask your doctor when a mammogram is recommended.
  • Early detection of tumors before they can be felt by a breast self-exam.

Schedule Yours, Remind a Friend

If your healthcare professional recommends a mammogram because of your age or risk for breast cancer, schedule a mammogram today and remind your family and friends – you could save a life.

Austin Regional Clinic makes it easy for you to schedule your mammogram online at ARCappointments.com or call ARC Far West at 512-346-6611.

ARC Far West now offers 3D mammograms. If you need a breast screening, consider 3D mammography. 3D mammography captures multiple images at different angles, providing doctors with exceptionally sharp views of the breast and is especially useful for women with dense breast tissue. 3D mammograms also use less radiation than traditional film mammography, reducing your lifetime exposure to radiation associated with x-rays.

The screening takes about 10 minutes at ARC Far West where there is a comfortable imaging suite with private waiting room and changing area. 

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