COLUMBIA -- According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the United States, other than skin cancer. The chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer during her lifetime is slightly less than one in eight.
During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) emphasizes the importance of early detection and offers a free gift to women who receive a mammogram during October.
"The goal of screening exams for early breast cancer detection is to find cancers before they start to cause symptoms. Following the American Cancer Society's guidelines by being screened each year starting at age 40 improves a woman's chances that breast cancer can be diagnosed at an early stage and treated successfully," said Dana Salters, director of infusion and women's imaging at MRMC.
Although widespread use of screening mammograms has increased the number of breast cancers found before they cause any symptoms, women as young as 20 are encouraged to perform self-exams at home between screenings.
Women should be aware of how their breasts normally look and feel and report any new breast changes to a health professional as soon as they are found.
The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. Other warning signs of breast cancer include:
* Swelling of all or part of the breast
* Skin irritation or dimpling
* Breast pain
* Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
* Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
* A nipple discharge other than breast milk
The American Cancer Society estimates that there are more than 2 ½ million breast cancer survivors in the United States today. Early detection tests for breast cancer are believed to save many thousands of lives each year.
MRMC offers digital mammography, which has proven to detect more cancers than film mammography, especially in women age 50 and younger and women with dense breasts. Screening mammograms may be performed without a physician's order. Services are available at the Women's Center at MRMC and Spring Hill Imaging Center.
For more information or to schedule an appointment at the Women's Center, call (931) 380-4044. To schedule an appointment at the Spring Hill Imaging Center, call (931) 486-3425 or (615.) 794-7922. Those who schedule a mammogram during October will receive a free gift.