October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As healthcare leaders, we see that much of the public focus is on raising research funds and helping support families dealing with the disease.
Suffolk County residents must also participate in the other aspect of Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Schedule a mammogram and encourage others to get screened.
The National Cancer Institute predicts that 287,850 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2022. It remains the most common type of cancer, ahead of second-place prostate cancer.
A Mammogram Can Save a Life
Discovering breast cancer in the early stage is the key to optimizing survival. According to the American Cancer Society, when invasive breast cancer is detected early, when it is confined to the breast, the 5-year relative survival rate is 90%.
When it is detected in Stage 0, DCIS, with the cancer cells still confined in the ducts, the survival is 99%. We strongly encourage women in their 40s to schedule mammograms and not wait until their 50s to begin screening. Some women may also need supplemental screenings with ultrasounds or MRI’s based on past history, family history and breast density.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still reports that nearly 30% more women get a mammogram in their 50s than in their 40s. This trend MUST change. The National Cancer Institute predicts that women 54 or younger will make up nearly 30% of new breast cancer diagnoses in 2022. Women in that age group will represent 15% of about 43,000 breast cancer deaths expected this year.
Catching breast cancer early can dictate the magnitude and invasiveness of treatment. For example, women with smaller or earlier cancers may have the option of having a lumpectomy/breast conservation surgery. Early detection may also impact the need for chemotherapy and radiation after surgery.
When found early, the cancer is typically at a stage where it is more curable and/or has not spread to lymph nodes or other organs. Mammograms often detect breast cancer before symptoms become evident, such as a lump or skin changes. Peconic Bay Medical Center has established advanced cancer screening technology to significantly enhance our ability to analyze breast tissue and find previously undetectable abnormalities.
Our Cancer Services Program also offers free screenings for uninsured Suffolk County residents who meet eligibility requirements so there are no obstacles to women getting screening early and often.
Early detection of breast cancer not only impacts treatment but could be the difference between life and death. Every woman should talk to her doctor about family history of cancers, genetic testing, breast density, diet, and general health, and SHOULD NOT skip her annual mammogram.
Visit pbmchealth.org/getscreened for more information or to schedule a mammogram.