Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women in the U.S., with an increased emphasis on awareness during October.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, where experts stress the importance of early detection and regular mammograms'.
"Our best tool for early detection is mammograms, and that's because most of my patients cannot feel a tumor or cancer that's present," St. Luke's Director of Breast Surgery Dr. Rhiana Menen said. "When they come into my office, I, someone who does exams every single day, I know exactly where to look and I can't even feel it. So a mammography picks up on things that can't be felt."
Menen said if you notice any body or skin changes and get a mammogram and are clear, it is good for peace of mind.
But when mammograms do find cancer, an array of treatments are available and evolving constantly.
"Just realizing that every persons plan is made just for them and the trend over the last 20 years is less radiation, less invasive surgery and shorter courses," Menen said. "And two-thirds of early breast cancer don't require any chemo therapy at all."
Regardless of the severity of the breast cancer if it is detected, Menen said she tells her patients they always have a plan and most people do very well with treatment.
As scary as a cancer diagnosis can be for a patient, Menen said it can be just as scary for the family of the person diagnoses.
"Staying very hopeful, knowing that things are changing so quickly, that we really do have a huge array of options for most patients and most people do very very well," she said. "My best advice is to stay hopeful and stay helpful."
More information can be found with a primary care provider or online.