COLUMBIA, Mo. - About one in seven women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, and about 70 percent of women with breast cancer will not have any of the risk factors commonly associated with the disease. As part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, experts at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center are encouraging women to schedule regular screenings to catch the disease as early as possible.
"Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death among women, but because of regular screenings and advances in treatment options, the death rate from cancer is going down," said Paul Dale, M.D., chief of surgical oncology at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. "About 85 percent of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are going to live a good, long life and will not die of the disease."
Dale, who also serves as the Margaret Proctor Mulligan Distinguished Professor in Medical Research and interim director of Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, said that early detection is key to treating breast cancer.
The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends women get screened for breast cancer regularly at age 40. Women younger than 40 who have risk factors for the disease should consult their physicians about the best screening method for them. Risk factors include:
- A family history of breast cancer
- Age - the older you are, the greater your risk
- Never having given birth to a child
- Being older than 30 at the birth of your first child
- Not having breastfed a child
- Having had a first menstrual period before age 12
- A history of benign breast disease that required biopsies
- Having other breast conditions
- Genetic conditions and inherited cancer syndromes
Ellis Fischel is also home to mid-Missouri's only certified genetic counselor specializing in cancer. By looking at a combination of personal history and at least three generations of family history, Stacey Miller, C.G.C., can determine if patients are at risk of having genetic mutations that could put them at a higher risk for developing breast cancer and other types of cancer.
"We look at family history and personal risk factors to determine if patients may be at a higher risk of developing cancer," Miller said. "If we determine that someone is at a higher risk for developing cancer, then we can discuss appropriate high-risk screening, risk-reduction and prevention options."
To schedule a breast cancer screening at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, please call (573) 882-8511. For more information about genetic counseling, please call (573) 882-4837.