While mammography remains the gold standard for early detection of breast cancer, many women neglect having the procedure performed on a regular basis.
The “Ladies Night Out for Breast Health” event hosted by Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital provides the ideal opportunity for Baytown area women to schedule this potentially life-saving examination.
The annual breast care event is scheduled for Thursday, October 24 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the hospital’s conference center classroom. In addition to being able to schedule a mammogram, participants will have the chance to speak with breast care specialists about maintaining optimal breast health care and enjoy music, refreshments and fun activities.
“Women should have yearly mammograms beginning at age 40 and should encourage their friends and family to have them as well,” said Dr. Esther Dubrovsky, breast surgeon at the Houston Methodist Cancer Center at Baytown.
Mammograms can detect breast cancer up to two years before a lump can be felt and early detection means a better chance of a cure.
Patients at Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital’s Breast Care Center have access to the technological advances provided by 3D mammography, or digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT), which improves the ability of breast radiologists to find early cancers.
Dubrovsky adds that women of all ages should regularly self-check their breasts to detect any noticeable lumps or changes in the tissue.
“It’s crucial to know how your breasts normally look and feel,” Dubrovsky said.
Knowing the possible symptoms of breast cancer—a painless lump or mass in or near the breast; a change in breast size or firmness; breast skin changes, such as dimpling, a sore or a rash; nipple itching, burning, rash, turning inward or discharge; a warm area in the breast; pain in the breast; swelling under the armpit or of the arm, and bone pain—can help detect the disease in its earliest stages.
Meanwhile, lifestyle changes may play a positive role in breast cancer prevention. Research indicates that exercise is an important factor when it comes to reducing a woman’s risk of breast cancer, with some studies estimating a 15 to 30 percent risk reduction with moderate exercise. Doctors believe the exercise-estrogen link may account for the reduced risk. Exercise appears to alter the metabolism of estrogen.
Maintaining a healthy weight may also reduce your risk of breast cancer. Women who have more fat cells produce more estrogen and tend to have higher insulin levels, both of which are linked to an increased breast cancer risk.
Limiting alcohol to three or less alcoholic drinks per week can lower a woman’s risk as well. Women who don’t want to abstain may take a daily multivitamin with folate (folic acid) to help mitigate the risk of breast cancer associated with alcohol consumption.
New mothers are encouraged to breastfeed their babies if they’re able. Evidence suggests that breastfeeding reduces a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer because women who breastfeed have fewer menstrual cycles throughout their lives, leading to less exposure to estrogen.
Other lifestyle changes that may decrease your risk include reducing stress and taking medications such as tamoxifen and raloxifene.
Dubrovsky says women with a strong family history of breast cancer should discuss with their doctor about whether genetic testing is right for them. Mutations in certain genes, such as the BRCA genes, increase the risk of breast cancer. Women with this gene mutation may opt for more frequent screenings or prophylactic surgery (breast removal).
Removing the ovaries and fallopian tubes is also an option. In addition to reducing the risk of ovarian cancer, it helps prevent breast cancer by eliminating a source of hormones that can fuel some types of the disease.
To register for the free “Ladies Night Out for Breast Health,” visit houstonmethodist.org/events, or call 281-428-2273.
About Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital
Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital has provided Baytown and East Houston with quality medical care since opening its doors in 1948. The hospital has grown throughout the years with the community, providing comprehensive care at all stages of life. As a health care leader, the hospital is proud to have a fully integrated residency program focused on educating and inspiring future practitioners. Today, Houston Methodist Baytown provides some of the most advanced and innovative procedures while never losing focus on compassionate and patient-centered care. Houstonmethodist.org/baytown.