BREAST CANCER: EARLY DISCOVERY ENHANCES SURVIVAL RATE

All women need to know about breast cancer because it can be very serious and potentially fatal. Breast cancer kills more women in the United States than any other cancer except lung cancer. Experts estimate one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. But the good news is that death rates are going down. Patients diagnosed with breast cancer today often do much better than in previous years.

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People who have diabetes must be vigilant about their eyes. Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults between the ages of 20 and 74 years, and 45 percent of patients with diabetes develop diabetic eye disease, which can lead to severe vision loss or even blindness, according to www.DiabetesSightRisk.com. One complication of diabetes that affects the eyes is diabetic retinopathy. In this condition, blood vessels become blocked and prevents areas of.....

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FEELING S.A.D. DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON? YOU’LL BE O.K.

The holidays are wonderful, but there is also a great deal of stress at this time of year. Not only are people expected to eat more than they should, drink more than they should and spend more than they can really afford, but they are also expected to be joyous and merry and full of good cheer. For some people, however, the holidays are not something they look forward to.

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BREAST CANCER: EARLY DISCOVERY ENHANCES SURVIVAL RATE

All women need to know about breast cancer because it can be very serious and potentially fatal. Breast cancer kills more women in the United States than any other cancer except lung cancer. Experts estimate one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. But the good news is that death rates are going down. Patients diagnosed with breast cancer today often do much better than in previous years. Breast cancers can be detected at smaller sizes and earlier stages than ever before, and early discovery can be important for having a better chance to cure the cancer.


As a family doctor, I often counsel women about mammogram screening as part of preventative care. I also do breast examinations to feel for any lumps that could potentially become cancer. There is some debate among medical professionals about the best times for mammograms. I typically suggest the American Academy of Family Physicians recommendations, but I certainly listen to patients and discuss whether a screening mammogram should be done. For women who are between ages 40-49 years, I discuss the risk and benefits of screening and take into account what the patient wants for herself. I find most patients want to start screening yearly or every other year at age 40 years. For women ages 50-74 years, I typically recommend a mammogram at least every other year, but some women choose to have mammograms every year. For women who are over age 75 years, I individualize the decision

based on the patient’s life expectancy and her goals for preventive care. Importantly, the main goal of the screening mammograms is to find and remove tiny cancers before they become large enough to feel or cause symptoms.


I often counsel patients about changes in the breast that might signify a cancer. If a patient notices a lump, changes in the size and/or shape of the breast, skin changes on the breast and/or a discharge from the nipple, further testing is often needed, including a diagnostic mammogram. This is different than a screening mammogram, in that the focus is on the abnormal area. A patient might also need a breast ultrasound and biopsy.


Many patients are worried about the discomfort associated with a mammogram. It is traditionally done by means of an X-ray. The technician places the breast between two plates in a special X-ray machine and the breast is squeezed for better quality. The test may be uncomfortable for a few moments when the breast is squeezed. Digital mammograms  are similar, but the X-rays are read and stored on a computer that lets the doctor magnify the image and store it to compare to previous and future tests.

Many patients are also interested in what they can do to reduce their chances of getting breast cancer. Most cases of breast cancer seem to be random. However, some new research suggests healthy habits may reduce incidences of breast cancer. Drinking more than one serving of alcohol per day on a regular basis or cigarette smoking may increase the chances of breast cancer. Being obese may increase the risk of breast cancer while being physically fit through exercise may reduce risk. Though sometimes needed for other conditions, taking some estrogen-replacement therapies may increase breast cancer risk. Exposure to radiation, such as having unneeded CT scans, may also increase the breast cancer risk.


Breast cancer is a normal concern for women because it is both common and serious. However, through the adoption of healthy habits, women may be able to reduce their chances of a breast cancer diagnosis. But even with the best of prevention plans, appropriate screening with mammograms to detect breast cancers at their smallest and earliest stages is critical for putting the odds in the patient’s favor. Discussing the appropriateness of a mammogram and other cancer screening tests for patients is an important part of annual health physicals.

DR. DIANA C. HAYSLIP

Dr. Diana Hayslip is a native of Ohio. She moved to Kentucky from South Carolina with her family, joining Family Practice Associates of Lexington in 2007. She is Board Certified in Family Medicine and sees both adults and children. Dr. Hayslip’s goal as your family physician is to “help you feel better and stay healthy.” You can schedule an appointment with Dr. Hayslip or any of the FPA providers by calling (859)278-5007 or visiting www.fpalex.com.

more articles by Dr. Diana C. Hayslip