Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center Celebrates National Breast Cancer Awareness Month by Educating Women about the Benefits of Mammograms
FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. – According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting women today. In 2013, an estimated 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in American women and approximately 39,620 women will die from it. The good news is that with regular breast cancer screenings, most women can significantly increase their chances of beating the disease.
In celebrating October as “National Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” Richard Reitherman, M.D., Ph.D., medical director of breast imaging at MemorialCare Breast Center at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, is educating women about the benefits of mammograms and dispelling the most common myths about them.
For some women, the thought of having to schedule their annual mammogram is as painful as getting their wisdom teeth pulled. However, despite the millions of excuses they may have for wanting to cancel their appointment, there are many more important reasons why they should keep it. Dr. Reitherman is no stranger to the countless excuses and myths women have about mammograms and he has decided to respond to a list of the 10 he most commonly hears from patients.
1. I am too young to have breast cancer.
Breast cancer does not discriminate by age, race or religion. While it is most common in post-menopausal women, 25 percent of breast cancers are diagnosed in women under 50. There are different guidelines about when to begin undergoing mammograms so ask your doctor what's right for you.
2. I have no family history so why do I need to be screened?
There is a greater risk of you getting breast cancer if it runs in your family, especially if your sister or mom had it. However, approximately 85 percent of women who are diagnosed have no family history of the disease. Why take the risk?
3. I am extremely healthy and exercise everyday.
Outstanding! You’re on the right track, but why not go that extra mile to ensure that you’re as healthy as you think? While diet and exercise will reduce your risk, it does not eliminate your chances completely.
4. I'm way too busy.
On average, mammograms only take 15-30 minutes and those minutes may turn into additional years on your life if the breast cancer is detected and treated in its earliest stages. It can also significantly reduce the amount of treatments needed.
5. I can’t afford a mammogram.
Mammograms are covered by most insurance plans and are now covered under the Affordable Care Act.
6. The radiation is too risky.
We may be exposed to more radiation from our cell phones than we are from mammograms. So if you refuse to give up your cell phone, why not use it to schedule your next appointment. It could be a lifesaver.
7. I do regular self-exams and never feel any lumps.
I’m proud that you’re being so proactive about your breast health, but mammograms can find even the smallest tumors before you can feel them. The earlier we can find the tumor the greater the chance we have at successfully treating them.
8. Mammograms will not help because my breasts are too dense.
Mammograms are far from useless. While they are not as sensitive in detecting breast tumors in dense breasts, the addition of a screening ultrasound or MRI helps to increase the detection rate of early breast cancer.
9. It's uncomfortable and painful.
A mammogram is quick and the pain, if any, is brief. However, you can further reduce your level of discomfort by scheduling it when your breasts are less sensitive, taking an aspirin or over-the-counter pain reliever before your screening, and most importantly, Let the technologist know that you might be sensitive. She might be able to make the mammogram a more positive experience.
10. I am too afraid of what my screening may find.
Having to face a potential breast cancer diagnosis is frightening to us all. But let’s not jump to conclusions because you may never receive the bad news you fear. In fact, 90 percent of women in the U.S. will never have breast cancer during their lifetime. And if you do, by getting your annual mammogram you will have significantly increased your chances of beating the disease.
For more information about mammograms and to schedule an appointment at The MemorialCare Breast Center at Orange Coast, please call 714-378-7955.