NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – As many of us know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This morning Dr. Kimberly Caprio stopped by our studio to talk about Pink Link, an annual free mammogram program, and the importance of early screening.
Pink Link is a 5th annual free mammogram event for uninsured and under-insured people that is being held on Wednesday, October 18th, 2017.
Each year approximately 100 women take advantage of this program. The program is funded through the Charlotte Johnson Hollfelder Foundation which provides grant money to hospitals for women who have no insurance or whose policies cover mammograms only every other year.
Three locations –
- Comprehensive Women’s Health Center at Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford.
- Radiology Associates of Hartford, Glastonbury office.
- Johnson Memorial Hospital Surgery Center in Enfield
Walk in appointments are available but you can also call and schedule an appointment. Mammograms will be taken and read on that day, meaning that you will get your results the same day.
The Facts About Breast Cancer:
- Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in their lifetimes. That’s about a 12% lifetime risk of developing a breast cancer.
- Here in Connecticut, roughly 3,000 women annually are diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Approximately 550 women will die each year in CT from breast cancer.
- The good news is that breast cancer mortality has dropped by about 30% in the last 3 decades.
- Breast cancer today is NOT the same disease it was 30 years ago.
Understand your risks:
Talk to your doctor about what factors are increasing your risk for developing a breast cancer.
These may include:
- (3 most important) Age, Estrogen, and Hereditary factors
- Breast density, Weight, Diet, Abnormal biopsies
Doctors use statistical models to estimate your lifetime risk of getting breast cancer, and use that information to help determine the best way to manage that risk.
Ways to reduce your risk:
- Healthy weight and diet, no smoking, physical activity, limit alcohol intake
- Avoid Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) use
- Have children before age 30, breastfeed if possible
Screening and Detection:
- Screening mammograms are the only breast imaging test to date that have shown a reduction in mortality due to breast cancer
- Guidelines are ever-changing, and currently we follow the guidelines from the American Cancer Society and the American Society of Breast Surgeons.
- Between ages 40-44, women can consider beginning screening, after discussion with your doctor about the risks and benefits (problem is more false-positives)
- Average women should begin screening at age 45.
- Most expert groups do NOT recommend breast self-exam. Depending on the group, most advise “breast self-awareness” – know what your breast tissue feels like. If you notice a change or have a lump that you’re worried about, see your doctor.
- Mammograms can detect a cancer anywhere from 1 to 4 years before you would feel a lump!
- 3-D mammograms, offered at the CWHC, have been shown to have better detection rates with fewer biopsies recommended and fewer call-backs.
Diagnosis and Treatment:
- Breast cancer awareness is so important because generally cancers that are found earlier need LESS treatment. Mammograms help catch these cancers at a very early stage when they are not palpable.
- Treatments may include a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, targeted antibody therapy, radiation and hormonal therapy. All treatments are individualized for what that particular patient needs.
- Every woman is treated individually to give her the best possible chance at survival and with the best quality of life. One of the most important things to remember is that there are options.
- Our jobs are to educate each woman (or man!) about their cancer and help us guide their treatment plan.
For more information, go to StFrancisCare.org