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Myth: Mammograms are equally effective for all women

Myth: Mammograms are equally effective for all women.

Fact: Up to 50% of small cancers may not be visible on the screening mammogram.

Although the screening mammogram has been highly effective in terms of early detection of breast cancer, it is not without its limitations. A recently published study in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) demonstrated that screening mammography has a 47 percent cancer false negative rate in women with dense breasts. This means that up to 47% of cancers may not be seen on the mammogram. Other recent studies demonstrated that women with dense breast tissue have an increased risk of developing breast cancer, which some […]

Myth: Breast Self Exam Doesn’t Work

Myth: Breast Self Exam Doesn’t Work

Reality: Breast Self Exams Can Be Lifesaving!

Until recently, all women were encouraged to do monthly breast self-exams (BSE) starting at age 21. However, new guidelines from the Komen Foundation and the American Cancer society state that women do not need to do self-exam, but should be “self-aware” and report any change to their doctor. Just how a woman becomes “self-aware” without some form of training is not explained.

These new recommendations have created a great deal of confusion. Women are asking, “Why the change in guidelines”? After all, the reality is that women who do BSE with confidence are capable of detecting small and potentially […]

Breast Cancer Risk Reduction

A recent report by Carlo La Vecchia, head of the department of epidemiology at the University of Milan, indicated that if women were to eat less and exercise more, their risk of developing breast cancer would be reduced by as much as 30 percent. Their findings, which are in general agreement with multiple other studies, indicate that regular, vigorous exercise and maintenance of normal weight are associated with significant reduction in the risk of developing breast cancer. This is a very important finding and deserves the attention it is receiving.  It is common for both physicians and patients to blame cancer diagnoses on unavoidable influences, such as family history, or some yet to be identified environmental factor, such as DDT or Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR).

Thinking of breast cancer as a disease that may be influenced by our behavior is a positive way of dealing with the issue.  Since being a woman is the single biggest risk factor for developing breast cancer, and the average life­time risk for a woman is one in eight, all women should be aware of the things they can do to lower their  risk.  The […]

Beginning Breast Cancer Screening at 50 Misses 20 Percent of Cancers

Delaying breast cancer screening until age 50 misses 20 percent of breast cancers, according to a study published by the American Journal of Roentgenology. The study examined 32,762 mammograms from women aged 40-79, as well as their prognosis and attendant risk factors. Of that group, 808 women received biopsies and 224 were diagnosed with breast cancer. Though the majority of breast cancers were found in women over 50, 18.8 percent were found in women 40-49.

Breast Cancer Controversy

This finding contradicts the breast cancer screening guidelines issued by the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF), a government panel that recommends medical practices to doctors and healthcare groups. In 2016, they […]

What About Breast Cancer in Men?

Although male breast cancer is rarely discussed, it is not exceedingly rare. On average, for every hundred females diagnosed with breast cancer, there will be one male diagnosed with breast cancer. Approximately 2,000 cases of male breast cancer are diagnosed yearly in the USA, compared to approximately 200,000 cases of female breast cancer diagnosed per year. The incidence of male breast cancer is increasing in the USA, probably because of increasing life expectancy.

Male breast cancer can occur over a wide range of ages, but are most common in the 60’s and 70’s, and are rare before the age of 50. Male breast cancer typically presents as lumps, but on occasion […]

What Age To Stop Mammographic Screening

One question that I commonly hear from my patients is “At what age can a woman stop having a screening mammogram?” Although there is not a simple answer to this question, there is now enough information about this subject for a woman to make an informed decision about herself or her aging relatives.

First, let’s start with the good news. Multiple well-designed scientific studies have demonstrated a 30-40 percent reduction in breast cancer mortality in women who do yearly mammograms. Things will get even better in the future as we move more towards aggressively screening high-risk women and women with dense breasts. Most of the information on the value of screening […]

Breast Cancer Myths. Fact or Fiction?

We continue to be surprised by the number of myths about breast cancer that women bring to our attention on a regular basis. The following are five common breast myths that can be easily dispelled:

Myth No. 1. The radiation from annual mammograms exposes women to an increased risk of getting breast cancer.

Answer: Mammograms do expose the breast to radiation, and exposure to radiation is a risk factor for getting breast cancer. It is essential that women understand that the risks of radiation exposure are both age and dose related. For example, young women who are treated with high dose radiation treatment for Hodgkin’s disease have a markedly increased risk for getting […]

Can Stress Cause Cancer?

Cancer patients are often left with feelings of extreme helplessness. This experience of hopelessness, in addition to feeling overwhelmed by social and often financial constraints, can culminate in a state of severe psychosocial stress – or simply “stress.” While stress in and of itself can significantly detract from quality of life, research has also linked stress in cancer patients with decreased survival.

What is “Stress?”

In 1936, an Austro-Hungarian scientist named Hans Selye published the first treatise on stress. Through a combination of lab work and observation, he discovered what he called a “non-specific response of the body to any demand for change,” but which he later dubbed “stress.” The stress response […]

OCMA selects four Breastlink doctors as Physicians of Excellence

Every year, the Orange County Medical Association (OCMA) selects a small number of physicians for its Physicians of Excellence award. These physicians are ones who “go above and beyond in serving their profession and patients.” This year, OCMA has named four Breastlink doctors as Physicians of Excellence, a great honor: Dr. West has been at the forefront of breast cancer treatment for three decades. He founded Breastlink and pioneered the multidisciplinary approach we have used to save the lives of women across southern California. Dr. Curcio is an exemplary surgeon and a cancer survivor. She has used her unique experience as a patient to help her own patients prevent […]

Dr. Parris Paper: Breast Cancer Screening

There is an established consensus in the breast health community that mammography is the mainstay imaging examination for screening breast cancer. However, there are varied national recommendations among stakeholders and major institutions in the topic of breast cancer screening. Lack of consensus in screening criteria includes risk stratification, age to initiate screening, and the interval of screening. The differences in practice guidelines are mainly due to variation in design and interpretation of screening trials over the past decades. As debates for and against the use of screening mammography continue to escalate, both providers and patients are often confused and wrongly perceive the recommendations as directives. The purpose of this article […]

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