Breast Cancer: Early detection key to survival

October 1, 2012 9:38:21 AM



Get ready to see a lot of pink in the upcoming weeks as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month kicks off in the Golden Triangle and around the country.  


The month-long awareness campaign began in 1985 as a joint effort by the American Cancer Society and pharmaceutical companies to educate and empower women to take control of their breast health through regular mammograms and to raise funds for research.  


The American Cancer Society estimates more than 225,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year, and around 40,000 will die from the disease.  


The University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson reports around 1,900 women and 20 men in the state will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.  


Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle will hold two special awareness events this month, with the first taking place Oct. 16 from noon to 1 p.m. in Rooms 4 and 5 of the new patient tower.  


Medical oncologist Dr. Velmalia Matthews-Smith will speak about breast cancer basics, and a light lunch will be served.  


The event will be free, but seating is limited, so attendees should call Donna Grant at 662-244-1132 to pre-register.  


Baptist and Mississippi University for Women will co-sponsor a women's health and awareness luncheon Oct. 24 at 11:45 a.m. in the Pope Banquet Room at Hogarth Dining Hall. Matthews-Smith will speak at this luncheon also, and reservations are required. For more information, call 662-329-7225.  


Two other events at MUW will include "Ballin' for the Cure," and "A Walk to Remember." 


"Ballin' for the Cure," a three-on-three basketball tournament, will begin at 8 a.m., with tip-off at 9 a.m. on Oct. 13.  


The event will feature family games at half-time and giveaways for spectators and players. Refreshments will be available.  


The entry fee for teams is $75, and Oct. 10 is the last day to register. The price for spectators is $5 at the door and $3 online. Donations will be accepted, and all proceeds will go to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.  


For more information, visit ballin4thecure.event 


MUW's Omicron Epsilon chapter of Delta Sigma Theta will hold a "Walk to Remember," Oct. 20 at 11 a.m., beginning at Dem Field. The walk will proceed around the entire campus of MUW. Following the walk, hors d'oeuvres will be served in the Claudia A. Limbert Assembly Room (Cochran Ballroom) and a guest speaker will be present.  


Afterward, there will be a balloon release in front of Cochran. T-shirts can be pre-ordered for $7 from any member of Delta Sigma Theta on campus. 


Also this month, the Dispatch will produce of series of stories related to breast cancer and women's health each Monday. 




To kick off the series, here are some common questions people have about breast cancer: 


Q: Is breast cancer the most common cause of death for women? 


A: No. Although many women get breast cancer, it is not a common cause of death. Heart disease is the number one cause of death among women age 40 and above, followed by stroke, lung cancer, and lung diseases. Breast cancer is the fifth leading cause of death. 




Q: What are the symptoms of breast cancer? 


A: When breast cancer starts out, it is too small to feel and does not cause signs and symptoms. As it grows, however, breast cancer can cause changes in how the breast looks or feels. Symptoms may include 


  • New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit). 


  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast. 


  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin. 


  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast. 


  • Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area. 


  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood. 


  • Any change in the size or the shape of the breast. 


  • Pain in any area of the breast. 




    Q: What is a mammogram? 


    A: A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. Doctors use a mammogram to look for early signs of breast cancer. Having regular mammograms can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. If you are age 50 to 74 years, be sure to have a screening mammogram every two years. If you are age 40-49 years, talk to your doctor about when and how often you should have a screening mammogram. 




    Q: Why should I have a mammogram? 


    A: Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before it can be felt. When their breast cancer is found early, many women go on to live long and healthy lives. 




    Q: Where can I go to get screened? 


    A: Most likely, you can get screened for breast cancer at a clinic, hospital, or doctor's office. If you want to be screened for breast cancer, call your doctor's office. They can help you schedule an appointment. Most health insurance companies pay for the cost of breast cancer screening tests. 




    Q: How can I lower my risk of breast cancer? 


    A: There are many ways:  


  • Control your weight and exercise. 


  • Know your family history of breast cancer. If you have a mother, sister, or daughter with breast cancer, ask your doctor what is your risk of getting breast cancer and how you can lower your risk. 


  • Find out the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy. 


  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. 




    Q: Can men get breast cancer? 


    A: Men can also get breast cancer, but it is not very common. Males make up about one percent of breast cancer victims.