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Breast cancer screening: The key to early detection

As we’ve discussed in the past, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and the goal is to spread the word to have more people get screened. We shared what we hope was very useful information last year on the importance of being screened and updates on screening guidelines.

Due to numerous factors in America (including diet, environment and activity levels), breast cancer remains a major health issue that, unfortunately, we still know too little about; however, we are learning more all of the time. One of the latest findings comes from a recent study from the Annals of Internal Medicine, reported by the Los Angeles Times and ABC News. The study found that breast density influences a woman’s need and frequency for screening.

One of the reasons it is so important to encourage breast cancer screening is that it is one of the few cancers for which effective screening modalities actually exist. In contrast, the majority of other cancers have no formalized screening protocols at all. Thus, for the ones we can screen for, such as breast, colon, prostate and skin cancer, we want to encourage this proactive effort. This allows us to find cases early enough to address them before they are too advanced, at which point we can’t do much (or anything) curative.

This month, I encourage both women and men (yes, men can also get breast cancer) to speak with their primary care physicians, and do not take anything for granted. Even though I am an Internist, I still have an Internist who takes care of me. We all need a physician who understands our needs and risk factors for specific and individualized health concerns. As stated in the prior blogs, one person’s individual screening needs and protocols for breast cancer will vary based on a variety of factors, including family history and past medical history.

Our intent is to raise awareness about all matters, breast cancer being one of them, that affect our communities in adverse manners. Please take the initiative to get informed and educated by sound health care professionals. We appreciate the honor and privilege of being partners in health with you.

Dr. A.K. Misra is a medical director for U.S. HealthWorks in South San Francisco. He is double-board certified in Sports Medicine and Internal Medicine.

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