October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and everywhere you look there are pink reminders of the huge impact this disease has on society. There's no denying the facts are sobering: 12% of all women (1 out of every 8) will develop breast cancer during her lifetime, nearly 250,000 women will be diagnosed in the next 12 months, and 40,000 women will die from the disease this year.
Fortunately, advances in comprehensive breast care, from early detection to reconstructive surgery, are significantly improving the outlook for millions of women.
Better diagnostic options. For women age 40 or older, a yearly mammogram is the most effective defense against breast cancer. With new digital mammography, cancer can be detected very early -- when the survival rate is up to 98%.
If a mammogram shows any abnormalities, or if you have dense breasts or other issues which may make detection more difficult, your doctor may recommend additional screening. An ultrasound using whole breast ultrasound technology (ABUS) to detect lumps not found on a mammogram, an MRI that can create a detailed picture of the inside of the breast, or a biopsy can then be used to detect or rule out cancer.
Better ways of understanding and managing risk. Many women are unaware that they have a higher than normal risk for breast cancer. But understanding your risk factors can help you and your doctor take a more proactive approach to screening, diagnosis and treatment.
Leading-edge cancer care. If breast cancer is detected, our experts are ready. We do all we can to accelerate diagnosis and treatment from our multidisciplinary team. We connect each woman with a caring nurse navigator to explain every aspect of care, answer questions and help her understand her options. Treatment is personalized and depends on the stage of the disease, the size of the tumor, lab results, the patient's age and general health, and decisions a woman makes with her doctor regarding surgery and reconstruction. Compared to the national data from thousands of breast cancer cases, El Camino Hospital exceeds the national trend for five-year survival.
Better reconstruction procedures. Breast reconstruction can be an important part of healing and returning to wellness at the end of a cancer treatments. Yet 70% of women who are eligible for surgery aren't aware of the advanced options now available to them. "Oncoplastic" surgery is a new specialty that combines oncology and plastic surgery. The result is less invasive procedures and improved cosmetic results. For women just beginning their cancer treatments as well as those years or even decades past their mastectomy surgery, new breast reconstruction options can provide amazing results that wouldn't have been possible before.
El Camino Hospital's Breast Health Center provides personalized and comprehensive breast care, from screening and diagnosis to treatment and reconstruction.
This article first appeared in the October 2014 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.