Darlington Rec hosts Breast Cancer Awareness event

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, slyles@newsandpress.net

Each year in America, more than 200,000 women are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. About 40,000 women die each year from the disease. An informational program held Thursday, October 19 at the Darlington Recreation Department’s Harmon Baldwin Gym aimed to inform the community about the latest options in testing, early detection, and treatment of this deadly disease.

“This is breast cancer awareness month and we want to help get some information out to the people, about health and treatments and different things they can do,” said event organizer Thomasina Brown, a leukemia survivor of seventeen years. Brown has staged programs like this one each year for the past fifteen years.

Program guests included Breast Imaging Specialist Ginny Edwards and Breast Nurse Navigator Tracey O’Neal from McLeod Health of Florence. Both stressed the importance of regular mammograms to catch cancer early and improve chances for a full recovery.

“Mammograms are very effective at finding early stage cancers, and hopefully soon we will have the 3-D mammogram technology at McLeod and that will make the test even more effective,” said O’Neal.

“The mammogram can actually find something called ductal carcinoma in situ, which is actually Stage Zero breast cancer, before it has invaded into the breast tissue. It shows up on the mammogram like microscopic grains of sand in a little cluster,” said Edwards.

Detection of such a pre-cancerous site would be followed up with tissue samples and testing to determine whether the cells are indeed ductal carcinoma in situ. The female breast typically has around 10,000 ducts that carry milk to the nipple, and these ducts are a frequent site of cancerous growths. If testing catches pre-cancerous cells before they invade the surrounding breast tissue, the prognosis for full recovery is much greater, which means that early detection remains the best weapon in the fight against breast cancer.

Edwards adds that most calcifications and lumps in the breast are not cancerous.

“If you find that you have calcifications in your breast, don’t assume that it is cancer because only about 20 percent that we see are cancer and 80 percent are benign things that occur in the breast,” says Edwards, adding that mammography, MRI and ultrasound testing can locate 85 to 90 percent of breast cancers.

O’Neal says that McLeod Health is making it easier to get mammograms by using a mobile testing lab to conduct doctor-approved tests on site at schools and places of business. The Susan G. Komen Foundation says that while most breast cancer diagnoses are in women, the disease also strikes men.

Most women who get breast cancer have no family history of the disease, but shared lifestyle factors (diet, exercise, alcohol use, etc.) or inherited genetic mutations may increase your risks. Current research indicates that only 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are due to inherited genetic mutations. Taking birth control pills also slightly increases the risk of breast cancer.

Doctors recommend several steps to reduce your risk of getting breast cancer:
Maintain a healthy weight
Add exercise into your routine
Limit alcohol intake
Limit menopausal hormone use
Breastfeed, if you can
To learn more, visit www.komen.org or call 1-877-465-6636

Author: mrollins

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