WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – According to the National Cancer Institute, it is anticipated that in 252,710 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed this year.
But thanks to prevention and early detection, the survival rate has greatly increased.
“The American College of Radiology recommends women should start having a mammogram annually at the age of 40,” said Staff Sgt. Lauren Le’vey, 88th Medical Group mammography course instructor. “Women who have immediate family members who had breast cancer should speak with their doctors about their risk and their potential need for additional screening.”
Patients at the 88th Medical Group who have a primary care manager here can schedule their mammogram directly with the radiology department and those who have an off base physician will require a prescription. Civilians should refer to their insurance coverage to find out if they can schedule directly with a hospital’s radiology department or if a referral is required from their primary care doctor. Screening mammogram procedures should take no more than 20 minutes.
“If diagnosed with breast cancer, a team of physicians from general surgery, oncology, pathology, radiology, nutritional medicine and plastic surgery will work together to develop the best course of treatment,” said 88th Medical Group cancer care director Lt. Col. Roger Wood. “Removal of the tumor, a lumpectomy, or a mastectomy, removal of the breast, is typically the first course of action followed by chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone based treatments,”
Maj. Justin Fox, 88th Medical Group plastic surgeon, provides reconstructive services for breast cancer patients who have undergone a lumpectomy or mastectomy. However, he wants patients to know that they have options to choose from whether it be implants, using their own tissue or opting for no reconstruction.
“No matter what the patient decides, I will help them make the decision that is right for them,” Fox said. “I try to talk to every patient with breast cancer whether they have a mastectomy or not. Even if they have the tumor removed, this can cause contour irregularities that I can help improve.”
Originally conceived by a Canadian plastic surgeon Dr. Mitchell Brown, Breast Reconstruction Day, or BRA day, was created to educate and bring awareness to all the reconstructive options for breast cancer patients. This year BRA day will be held on Oct. 18.
“There are measures that can be taken to reduce the chances of breast cancer,” Wood said. “Having a low fat diet, a body mass index of less than 30, exercise and do not smoke.”
Wood said for those who carry genetic or family history risk factors, a breast cancer gene test, BRCA, can be taken to find out a person’s chance of getting breast or ovarian cancer. BRCA is a blood test that will check for mutations in the genes.
“We encourage annual mammograms because early detection is important and can potentially increase the chance of survival from breast cancer,” said Le’Vey.
To bring awareness to breast cancer, the Wright-Field Fitness Center will hold a ‘Breast Cancer Pink Out Day’ on Friday, Oct. 6. A free aerob-a-thon will held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. followed by a 3-on-3 ‘Hip Hop Hoops’ tournament at 5 p.m. Sign up at the Dodge Gym or Wright Field Fitness Center or for additional information contact the Wright Field Fitness Center at 255-1961.
The American Cancer Society will hold ‘Making Strides Against Breast Cancer’ walks at various locations throughout the month of October. To find a walk located near you, go to https://secure.acsevents.org/site/SPageServer/?pagename=strides_msabc.
For additional information on breast cancer go to the American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org or the National Cancer Institute at www.cancer.gov. For information on BRA Day and breast reconstruction, go to www.breastreconusa.org.