October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Published on October 11, 2017

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month – and according to the American Cancer Society, over 40,000 women are expected to die from breast cancer this year. As with any type of cancer, it is important to catch breast cancer as early as possible. At the Bronson Cancer Center - Battle Creek, from technology to specially trained staff, we have the resources to help catch cancer early and a wide variety of treatment options available.

Breast cancer forms when changes in DNA cause normal breast cells to become cancerous. There are many different factors that can affect your risk of developing breast cancer. By being familiar with these factors, you can help prevent and detect early signs of breast cancer. Although this type of cancer is much more common in women, it is important for men to be aware of these risk factors as well.

  • Family history – Did your mom, grandmother or sister have breast cancer? Since breast cancer forms when DNA changes, family genes can affect your risk level.
  • Diet – Maintaining a healthy diet is important. High-fat diets can lead to being overweight which can increase your risk.
  • How much you exercise - As with eating healthy, regular exercise can help maintain a healthy weight, decreasing your risk.
  • Race – Breast cancer is typically more common in white and African American women.

All women ages 40 and above should receive regular breast cancer screenings; however, it is helpful to be aware of these risk factors when doing your monthly self-exams. What are the signs or symptoms of breast cancer?

  • Swelling of the breast (all or part of it)
  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • Breast or nipple pain
  • Nipple retraction (turning inward)
  • Redness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)

Source: American Cancer Society

At the Bronson Cancer Center - Battle Creek there are many resources available to help detect breast cancer as early as possible. One of these tools is 3D mammography exams. For a number of women who have dense breasts, which is around 50 percent, traditional mammography can make it harder to detect breast cancer. 3D mammography has the ability to detect invasive cancers by 40 percent compared to traditional methods. It also decreases the likelihood of calling a woman back for a non-cancer abnormality on the exam by 15 to 60 percent.

If someone has breast cancer, there are several different treatment options available at the Bronson Cancer Center - Battle Creek.

  • Surgery
    • Mastectomy: A partial or complete removal of the breast
    • Lumpectomy (breast conserving surgery): Surgery removing cancerous tissue and conserves healthy breast tissue
  • Radiation oncology: This type of therapy is often used after breast conserving surgery. In 2015, the Bronson Cancer Center - Battle Creek acquired the Vision RT which minimizes radiation exposure to the lungs and eliminates radiation to the heart. This helps reduce the chances of long-term damage to these organs.
  • Chemotherapy: The use of one or more drugs, sometimes used before or after surgery. 

A unique aspect of a patient’s cancer journey at the Bronson Cancer Center - Battle Creek is the added support from nurse navigator, Susan Swank, RN, BS, CN-BCN, OCN. “We want women to know they’re not alone on their journey. It is my job to help patients understand their treatment options as explained by their oncologist or surgeon,” says Susan. “I also help coordinate care by scheduling appointments, assisting with referrals or even helping with transportation.” We also offer support services such as genetic counseling, nutrition services, pastoral care, and many others to support you along your cancer journey.

To learn more about breast cancer services at the Bronson Cancer Center - Battle Creek, visit bronsonhealth.com/cancer.

Photo of three women