You may have gotten a diagnosis of breast cancer. Or maybe you’re putting off getting a mammogram, just because you’re scared of getting a breast cancer diagnosis. But you should get mammograms. And if you have already been diagnosed with breast cancer, there are many reasons to have hope.
Breast cancer is a very serious condition, to be sure. But the prognosis for breast cancer is much better than in previous decades and in fact, you should feel encouraged that you have a good chance to beat it. For breast cancer awareness month, Dr. Alan Patterson of Patterson OB-GYN explains more of the encouraging facts about breast cancer.
If you’re worried about breast cancer, there’s one cause for celebration: the rate of deaths from breast cancer has significantly decreased since 1989. Between 1989-2015, the number of deaths from breast cancer has declined by 39%.
In addition, during the same time period, the racial differences among breast cancer outcomes also shrank. You have a better chance of surviving breast cancer now compared to 30 years ago.
One of the reasons for the lower death rate now is the higher number of women getting mammograms. Both mammograms and breast ultrasounds can catch breast cancer in the early stages, when it’s more treatable.
You may have heard about how invasive breast operations were in the past. Fortunately, radical mastectomies (the removal of the breasts) is not a standard procedure in all cases of breast cancer anymore.
You may have a lumpectomy, which removes only the tumor and a small amount of the surrounding tissue, in many cases of early stage breast cancer.
Not all cases of breast cancer are treated the same way. Clinicians can look at the molecular nature of a tumor to determine the best possible treatment after the tumor is removed.
These treatments may include chemotherapy, radiation, and/or hormone treatments. It all depends on the nature of your tumor. Adding hormones to your treatments also makes it less likely that you’ll have premature ovarian failure in addition to your breast cancer, which may have a protective effect.
While the same isn’t true in low-income countries, most women in industrialized nations — including the U.S. — survive a breast cancer diagnosis. The survival rate of breast cancer in these industrialized countries is over 80%.
You can get breast cancer screening and treatment even if you don’t have health insurance. Talk to Dr. Patterson about self-pay discounts and resources for treatment if necessary.
In addition to performing monthly breast self-exams, you should seek a mammogram or breast ultrasound. For most women, this will begin sometime after age 40.
As we all know October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Dr Patterson is co-owner, along with 12 other OBGYNs and his management company of Boca Raton Mammography, and in honor of this month, any self-pay patients of his or the other doctor owners will receive a discount on mammograms and or ultrasounds. Please call his office to book your appointment.