SAN ANGELO, Texas — Breast cancer is highlighted in the month of October to raise awareness for early detection. Understanding the early signs is vital, as it can potentially save a life.
“Getting mammograms and every year staying on top of that means if you're gonna get breast cancer, hopefully we can catch it earlier when it's much easier to treat cure and it's a lot easier on the patient,” Shannon Imaging Center Chief of Women's Imaging, Michelle Snuggs, said.
Snuggs said self-breast exams are important as well as keeping a good eye to know if there’s any unusual change in the breast. It’s also vital to get mammograms yearly, starting at the age of 40. She said some people do other forms of testing like ultrasounds of the breast or MRIs of the breast as well.
“Being diagnosed with breast cancer can come at any age,” Snuggs said.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death among women in Texas. No matter the age, breast cancer can affect anyone.
“It can be as early as your twenties, which people are not very aware of as well as, you know, as long as someone can live in the nineties and I think we've even had someone that was 100 that's been diagnosed,” Snuggs said.
She said one-in-eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer and 15-20 percent of the cases are hereditary. Understanding the early symptoms associated with breast cancer is critical in getting treatment.
“The early signs of breast cancer is, if you notice any sort of change in your skin, whether it's redness, whether it's pulling in or what we call retracting. Also, you might look for nipple changes like discharge or redness or when your nipple actually pulls in as well and probably the most common that you see is a lump when someone feels something in their breast doesn't feel quite right, it's new they all definitely need to call their doctor,” Snuggs said.
There are several treatments available.
“Probably the most common is surgery and followed by radiation and that's usually in people that have smaller cancers. Earlier cancers are not quite as aggressive and that's another reason we want to diagnose them early. If someone has more advanced cancer or more aggressive type cancer, then there may end up with mastectomies, which is removal of the breast along with chemotherapy,” Snuggs said.
To learn more information about breast cancer, mammograms and more, go to shannonhealth.com