As with most forms of cancer, early detection is key, according to Dr. Frank Powell of Piedmont Healthcare.
A specialist in breast surgery, general surgery, hyperbaric medicine and thoracic surgery, Powell was one of the physicians involved in the care and treatment of breast cancer survivor, Christie Mons.
“Number one on the list of what women can do to improve their chances of surviving breast cancer is a periodic self-examination,” Powell noted. “Self-exams and mammograms do not prevent cancer, but lead to early detection.”
According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancers found during screenings and self-exams are more likely to be smaller and confined to the breast, meaning the cancer has not spread to lymph nodes or to other areas of the body.
“If the cancer is found early, it can be treated early, and the treatment is more likely to be successful,” Dr. Powell said.
In the case of Christie Mons, the patient discovered signs of a problem before the age the American Cancer Society recommends a woman receives annual mammograms. According to Dr. Powell, this is not common, but can definitely happen, and women should trust their instincts.
“Women know their own bodies better than anyone else,” Powell said. “Even if a mammogram or other screening comes back normal, it doesn’t always mean there is no cancer.”
Powell recommends visiting a breast specialist if there is continued concern.
Following cancer treatment, Powell suggests patients remain in close contact with the breast surgeon or specialist. The physician also noted that many survivors may also benefit from keeping up to date on what is new in cancer treatment and survival.
“There are therapies available that can prevent a recurrence of cancer and other issues,” Powell said. “It is important to continue screenings as often as recommended by your specialist.