Early Detection, Timely Treatment Keys to Improving Breast Cancer Survival Rates
NASHVILLE – Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among Tennessee women, with approximately 5,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed each year in the state. The Tennessee Department of Health is reminding Tennesseans during Breast Cancer Awareness Month that early detection through regular screening and timely treatment can improve chances of survival of breast cancer.
“Most women who get breast cancer don’t have any risk factors. That’s why regular screening assists in early detection and is key to saving lives,” said TDH Assistant Commissioner for Family Health and Wellness Morgan McDonald, MD. “Regardless of risk factors or the presence of symptoms, a woman still needs to be regularly screened for breast cancer.
“Men can get breast cancer too, and though screening is not recommended for most men, both women and men can take action to reduce their risk of breast and other cancers by maintaining an active lifestyle including regular physical activity, a healthful diet and abstinence from smoking,” McDonald continued.
One in eight women with average risk factors will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Women should begin regular screening with mammograms no later than the age of 50. Depending on risk factors, a woman may need to begin screening at an earlier age. The United States Preventive Service Task Force recommends screening with mammograms every other year for women of average risk of breast cancer, starting with a conversation with a health provider at age 40 and continuing through age 75. Risk factors for breast cancer include:
• Family history of breast cancer
• Overweight, especially after menopause
• 50 years of age or older
• Previous personal history of cancer (especially breast or ovarian)
• Using hormone replacement therapy for an extended period of time
In addition to risk factors, it is important for women to be aware of the many different signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Symptoms can include:
• Any change in size or shape of the breast
• Pain in any area of the breast
• Nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood)
• New lump in the breast or under arm
“There are often no signs or symptoms in early stages of breast cancer, which is why it is important to have regular screenings,” said TDH Breast and Cervical Screening Program
Director Crissy Gray. “If you have any signs or symptoms that seem unusual, see your health care provider right away.”
Tennesseans are fortunate to have the Tennessee Breast and Cervical Screening Program which provides free clinical services, mammogram screening and diagnostic testing to qualified uninsured and underinsured Tennesseans. In 2017, TBCSP provided services to more than 9,000 women across the state. Learn more about the program at www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/fhw/mch-cancer.html or contact your local health department for information.
Talk with a health care provider about your risk for breast cancer, especially if a family member has had a breast cancer diagnosis. For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/resources/features/breastcancerawareness/index.htm.
The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.