“Don’t be afraid to come in,” Medical experts advise women not to wait on getting checked for breast cancer

Health

KNOXVILLE, Tenn: (WATE)- “Do not be afraid,” Dr. Kamilia Kozlowski, medical director/CEO at Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Center, stresses when it comes to women’s health and breast cancer.

Breast cancer, aside from skin cancers, is the most common cancer in American women according to the American Cancer Society. The average risk for women in the U.S. developing breast cancer is around 13%.

John Travolta announced on social media that his wife, actress Kelly Preston lost her battle with breast cancer early Sunday morning. While there are a number of reasons that could have lead to her death from breast cancer, it is preventable and treatable if caught early enough.

Dr. Kozlowski, also a dedicated clinical breast radiologist, says that is why it’s important for women 40 and over to get a mammogram done yearly; warning if a year is skipped, the chances for advanced forms of the cancer increases.

After 40, women should continue to get mammograms and MRI’s yearly for as long as they can. Kozlowski says one out of eight 80-year-old women develop breast cancer, and one out of 12 for women in their 70’s.

For women younger than 40 but who have a strong history of breast cancer in their family, Dr. Kozlowski recommends for those women to start receiving mammograms ten years prior to when that family member had it.

It is recommended for women of all ages to perform self-examinations, another preventative measure against breast cancer. If a lump or abnormality is found, do not hesitate to seek medical attention, says Kozlowski, it can be the difference between life and death.

It is not just genes that contribute to developing breast cancer. According to Dr. Kozlowski, genetic cancers only account for 5-10% of breast cancer in women in the U.S., most cases are considered sporadic.

Some risk factors that could lead to breast cancer are:

  • Old age
  • Being a woman
  • Inheriting certain genes like BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene
  • Number of years one has had their menstrual cycle
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Menopause after age 55
  • Having a child later in life
  • Fertility treatments

There are also lifestyle factors that could increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer like the number of years someone takes birth control, excessive drinking, being overweight, etc.

Late signs of breast cancer include feeling abnormal lumps in breasts, bloody nipple discharge, pinkness associated with the lump, however, those are all late signs and Dr. Kozlowski says they want to catch it earlier: which is why mammograms and MRI’s of the breast are important.

To help prevent breast cancer, Dr. Kozlowski says it’s important for women to know their bodies, family history and keep up with their mammograms and breast health.

While it is a common form of cancer to attack women, it does not discriminate. If a man has an immediate family member who has had breast cancer, he should get tested to see if he has the BRCA 1 or 2 gene as men are also susceptible to breast cancer.

Besides putting health first, Dr. Kozlowski stresses for women to not be afraid or hesitant about seeing a doctor, the disease can be treated if caught early enough–there is no reason to wait.

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