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Early Detection is Your Best Protection

by Lenee Svorec | Nov 7, 2018

mammogram, appointment, breast cancerTremendous advances have been made in finding and fighting breast cancer right here in Michiana. New technologies help identify and treat cancer earlier, in less time, and with the same, if not more, precision.

It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer:

  • Lump in the breast or under the arm
  • Persistent and/or growing areas of redness or scaliness on the breast
  • Nipple discharge

While self-monitoring changes to your breast is important, the majority of early stage cancers occur without symptoms. Yearly mammograms beginning at age 40, and discussions with your physician if under the age of 40, are the most important steps you can take to improve your survival rate with breast cancer.

For most women, getting a regular mammogram is the best way to detect breast cancer at an early stage, when treatment is usually the most successful. Women with denser breast tissue now have a new treatment option with access to 3D mammography at Spectrum Health Lakeland.

“3D mammography, also known as digital breast tomosynthesis, offers a newer way of finding subtle changes in the breast which may go unnoticed on a traditional mammogram. This is especially beneficial for women with dense breasts,” shared general surgeon, Elizabeth Jeffers, MD.

What if you are diagnosed with cancer?

Treatment for breast cancer depends on the stage of the cancer. Your physician will discuss your options that can include surgery, with or without radiation therapy, to prevent the cancer from coming back in the breast or lymph node regions.
 
Chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or anti-hormonal therapy may also be used to prevent the cancer from growing and spreading to other areas of the body.

“Lakeland is a leader in shorter course radiation therapy, with the highest use rate in the state of Michigan for the last four years,” said radiation oncologist, Benjamin Gielda, MD. “One of the biggest improvements in breast radiation today is that it doesn’t take as long to complete and is safer than ever before with advanced targeting and techniques to minimize exposure to normal tissues.”

If breast cancer is caught in the early stages, Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT) can also be used during surgery to eliminate the need for any additional radiation visits – stressing the importance of early detection with yearly mammograms and/or self-breast exams. 

To learn more about the comprehensive breast program at Lakeland, click here

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