October 8, 2013
New recommendations urge women to begin screening for breast cancer at the age of 40, and continue getting mammograms each year.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women. Approximately 300,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. One in eight women is expected to have breast cancer in her lifetime. Dr. Robert Mocharnuk, associate professor of hematology and oncology at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, explains the importance of annual breast exams for early detection of breast cancer.
“...There’s something called the triple test that’s tried and true. So that involves self-screening, annual mammograms, and a physician- or nurse practitioner-directed exam. So between those three things, that’s the best way of detecting breast cancer.”
Dr. Mocharnuk, who is also on the staff of the Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU, says when breast cancer is detected at an earlier stage, the prognosis is much better. He says survival rates depend upon stage at the time of diagnosis.
“ ...Those who have early stage breast cancer actually do very well. A Stage 1 breast cancer patient can be expected to have a five-year survival of nearly 100 percent. A Stage 2 breast cancer patient which can or cannot which could possibly include lymph node involvement in addition to the breast disease, the survival at five years for those women is 93 percent. And then the difference between Stage 2 and Stage 3 drops kind of dramatically ...”
Insurance companies and Medicare are required to cover mammography screening for breast cancer. Low-income women without insurance may qualify for the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer program. For more information about the program, call the toll-free number, 1-888-522-1282, or talk to your personal physician about breast cancer screening.