By Joseph S. Walker, MD

Joseph S. Walker, MDOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it is time to remember loved ones who have battled this dreaded disease, many of whom have lost her lives because of it. It is pertinent to honor them, to save lives by detecting this disease early, and to prevent it whenever possible.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommends average risk women who show no symptoms between ages 25 and 40 years of age to have a visit with a physician or practitioner regarding risk management and risk reduction counseling every 1-3 years as well as a clinical breast exam.

Women over 40 years old are recommended to have an annual clinical visit and annual mammogram. Women who are at increased risk such as those with a strong family history of breast cancer or those with a previous abnormal biopsy need increased risk screening. During these visits women can be instructed on how to perform self-breast exams as well.

Any woman who has breast symptoms such as a palpable mass or new abnormal breast changes needs immediate diagnostic evaluation. By diligently adhering to the current guidelines and responding to women’s breast related concerns and needs in a timely fashion, we can hope to significantly reduce the morbidity and mortality of this disease.

Please contact your primary care provider to be evaluated. Any abnormal or concerning findings on exam or imaging should prompt referral to an experienced breast surgeon. We are prepared to take care of your breast surgery and oncology needs here at Northwest Surgery Center. Remember that the patient is the most important member of the healthcare team and needs to be actively involved in the breast cancer screening and decision-making process.