September 30, 2004

Is Breast Cancer In Your Future?

Breast cancer is second only to skin cancer in the number of cases diagnosed in American women. Over 200,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and roughly 40,000 will die as a result of this disease

“There are some very easy steps involving you and your physician that will provide an effective screening for breast cancer.” stated Dr. Celeste Miller-Parish. “We all like to put things off, but the risk is very real and I encourage you to make an appointment.”

There will be a free breast cancer screening at Memphis Medical Services on Friday, October 15, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. This screening is free, but organizers ask that you call and make an appointment with Memphis Medical Services at 660-465-2828.

The following conditions have been shown to increase a woman’s risk of getting breast cancer:

Personal History

Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer are more likely to get cancer in their other breast or in another part of the same breast.

Family History

Breast cancer risk is higher among women whose close blood relatives have the disease. Having a mother, sister, or daughter with breast cancer increases breast cancer risk.

Late Childbearing or Having No Children

Women who have not had children or have their first child after age 30 have a slightly higher breast cancer risk.

Alcohol Consumption

Some studies link alcohol to an increased risk of developing breast cancer.


A person who has inherited a mutated breast cancer related gene from either parent, or a large number of family members with several types of cancer has an increased chance of developing breast cancer.

Breast Irradiation

Women who have had radiation therapy in the chest area before age 30 (i.e., those who were treated for Hodgkin’s disease or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma) are at increased risk for developing breast cancer later in life.

Exposure to Estrogen

Women who began menstruating at an early age (before age 12), experienced menopause late (age 55 or older), or took hormone replacement therapy for five or more years have increased exposure to estrogen. Some evidence suggests that the longer a woman is exposed to estrogen, the more likely she is to develop breast cancer.

Breast Density

Breast cancer most frequently develops in lobular or ductal tissue. Thus, cancer is more likely to occur in breasts that have a lot of lobular or ductal (i.e., dense) tissue. It is also more difficult to see abnormal areas in dense breasts.

Many women who develop breast cancer will not have any of these risk factors, other than the risk that comes with increased age. Women should talk with their doctor about their individual risk factors and develop a plan for when to start and how often to be checked for breast cancer.

Detecting Breast Cancer

“A screening mammogram is an excellent tool for finding breast cancer,” stated Dr. Miller-Parish. “It can detect breast cancer 5-8 years before you or your doctor can feel it.”

The most recent American Cancer Society recommendations are specified below:

* Beginning in their 20s, women should be told that breast self-exams (BSEs) are an optional self-care routine.

* Women 20 – 39 years of age should have a clinical breast exam performed by a health care professional about every 3 years. At age 40, these exams should be performed every year.

* Women 40 years of age and older should have a screening mammogram every year.

* Women known to be at increased risk of breast cancer should discuss screening guidelines with their health care provider.

* Older women that are in reasonably good health should continue having annual mammograms.

* If you develop symptoms, see your doctor immediately.

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