85 percent of new breast cancer diagnoses do not have positive family history.
If you were relying on the fact that none of your family members had breast cancer as a reason not to have a mammogram, think again.
According to breast surgeon, Nova Foster, while immediate family history (mother or sister) raises the risk, the actual cases of an inherited breast cancer due to abnormal genes passed from parent to child is only about 5-10%.
“Family history is always a red flag for us,” she said, “but I’m afraid only thinking about family history may give women a false sense of security.”
This is precisely why the Breast Center encourages women to get screened yearly at age 40 regardless of history.
Technology today allows breast cancer to be detected that is no larger than the head of a pin.
Certainly the monthly self exam is important. In fact about 20% of cases are detected because the patient or her doctor discovered a lump.
However, with new technology like 3D mammography, tumors can be detected that are mere millimeters–so much earlier than what can be felt by the hand.
Every case of breast cancer is different.
It’s a beautiful thing to see the camaraderie surrounding those with breast cancer. Women often find comfort sharing their stories with those in similar situations. It’s definitely an important support system. However, that is where the similarities end.
“Every case is different, every woman is different and every cancer is different,” Foster said. She recommends that each case be taken step by step. The answer may not be a double-mastectomy like Angelina Jolie. “My hope is that women don’t have a preconceived notion about their treatment.” Foster encourages women to understand going in that their treatment will be unique to them.
You Might Be Hearing Two Different Stories. Screenings Starting at Age 40 or Age 50?
Lately, some preventative teams have been reevaluating whether 40 is too soon to begin screening. However, ask Dr. Foster or any of the staff members at the Breast Center. Their answer is a definite “No, 40 is not too early to get a screening mammogram.”
According to Foster, “So many of my patients have received a cancer diagnosis before age 50 and it was because we caught it during their screening mammogram. When you see it that much, I can’t help but believe that 40 is the age to start.”
And, as with all cancers, the earlier you catch it, the better the opportunity to cure it.
The Breast Center Welcomes New Breast Surgical Director.
Dr. Nova Foster is the latest physician to join the SIH Medical Group. A board certified breast surgeon, she practices at the Breast Center in University Mall.
“It is such an amazing breast cancer program that has been put into place at SIH,” she said. “I was so impressed with the quality of care and physician caliber, especially for a rural area.”