Scheduling a Breast Cancer Screening Can Help Save Your Life

Louisville, Ky. (October 8, 2019) – It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month once again, a time dedicated to raising awareness about a disease that affects about 1 in 8 women in the United States over the course of their lifetime, according to the National Cancer Institute. Jewish Hospital and Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital, both part of KentuckyOne Health, are encouraging women to learn more about screenings and early detection.

While breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, statistics show many women are beating the disease. Breast cancer death rates have decreased nearly forty percent since 1990, according to the American College of Radiology, as a result of screenings and better treatment.

“There’s no question that early detection can mean the difference between life and death,” said Christina Clark, MD, mammography radiologist at Medical Center Jewish East and Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital. “The majority of women don’t experience any physical symptoms prior to a diagnosis, so regular breast cancer screenings are important to help catch cancer in the early stages.”

The American College of Radiology recommends women begin annual mammogram screenings starting at age 40 – even if they have no symptoms or family history of breast cancer. For women with a personal or family history of breast cancer, including the BRCA genetic mutation, the risk is elevated and earlier screenings may be recommended.

“There are a host of common risk factors for breast cancer that women should be aware of, such as being over the age of 60, having a family history of the disease or inherited gene mutations, and/or lifestyle factors including not having children, heavy drinking, lack of physical activity, using oral contraceptives, or using combined hormone therapy after menopause,” said Dr. Clark. “It’s important to talk to a physician about a screening if any of those risk factors apply to you.”

There are two screening options that may be recommended for breast cancer, including digital mammography and tomosynthesis. Traditional 2D digital mammography can be manipulated by the radiologist to get a better view of shadows, light and contrast. This can help identify whether a spot is a mass that needs to be investigated further, or simply an area of dense breast tissue.

Tomosynthesis, more commonly known as 3D mammography, was approved by the FDA in 2011 and has become another valuable tool in breast cancer detection. Tomosynthesis creates multiple slices of the breast tissue, giving reviewing physicians a clear vision of a mass that may be clouded by complex, overlapping breast tissue. This tool is especially useful for women with moderate to extremely dense breast tissue.

Now that Breast Cancer Awareness Month is here, make the time to schedule a mammogram if you are over age 40 or have risk factors for breast cancer. Getting a screening can help detect cancer early and give you peace of mind.

To find your nearest mammogram screening location, visit www.kentuckyonehealth.org/mammogram, or call 502.587.4327.

Bringing Cancer Treatment Home

Bringing Cancer Treatment Home

Bringing Cancer Treatment Home

Oral chemotherapy can make cancer treatment a little easier.

A cancer diagnosis is never convenient, and traveling to and from the hospital to receive intravenous chemotherapy treatments can be a real drain on patients’ time and morale. Now, for certain patients, KentuckyOne Health offers oral chemotherapy — a treatment option that frees patients from long sessions of infusion therapy.

“Like traditional chemotherapy, oral chemotherapy is used to destroy cancer cells, but it does so through a pill you can swallow,” said Scott Pierce, MD, hematologist and oncologist at KentuckyOne Health. “Oral chemotherapy is considered just as effective as the traditional version and has the benefit of allowing patients to undergo treatment at home.”

Cancer patients who opt for oral chemotherapy also don’t have to deal with being hooked up to an IV, which is a necessary measure for traditional chemotherapy that can cause discomfort or anxiety for patients.

No Magic Pill

 

The ability to undergo treatment from the comfort of one’s home has turned oral chemotherapy into a very popular option. However, this method of treatment isn’t without its drawbacks, including:

  • Strict instructions. The burden of remembering how and when to take oral chemotherapy falls squarely on the shoulders of the patient. Patients must also remember to avoid certain foods, drinks, vitamins and supplements when taking the medication.
  • Pricey pills. Oral chemotherapy can be expensive and isn’t always covered by insurance plans. Because of this, it’s important for people to check with their medical insurance before choosing this line of treatment.
  • Same old symptoms. The side effects of oral chemotherapy are comparable to those of traditional chemotherapy. Fatigue, weakness, nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, diarrhea, weight loss, hair loss, bleeding gums, skin changes, low blood count, loss of menstrual periods and compromised immune system are all possible.

“Oral chemotherapy may be used alone or in combination with radiation therapy, surgery or immunotherapy,” Dr. Pierce said. “Talk with your physician to see if oral chemotherapy might be an option for your type of cancer.”

Handle with Care

 

As with most prescription medications, it’s extremely important to follow your physician’s directions when embarking on an oral chemotherapy treatment program.

Certain oral chemotherapy drugs are hazardous. Follow your doctor’s instructions for handling hazardous medications with care, which may mean wearing safety gloves, storing pills in a certain location or packaging, and being extra cautious about the other medications or supplements you take, even if they come over-the-counter.

This article originally appeared in the 2017 Fall edition of One Health Magazine. Sign up for your free subscription.

Is Your Mammogram Doing Double Duty?

Is Your Mammogram Doing Double Duty?

Routine screenings for breast cancer can help identify calcium buildup — a sign of potentially serious coronary artery disease.

Calcium deposits can collect over time and block your coronary arteries, leading to heart attack and impaired heart function. These deposits are generally detected through coronary calcium scans — detailed imaging of the heart arteries. Now, researchers have found that women whose mammograms reveal calcium deposits in their breast tissue may benefit from talking with their doctors about their coronary artery health.

Research Reveals Link

In a 2016 study published by JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging, nearly 300 women were evaluated for calcium buildup in their hearts and breasts. Researchers found that seven out of 10 women with calcium buildup in their breast arteries also had calcium buildup in their hearts.

Dr. Brian Mattingly“Research is the first step to understanding the connection between breast artery calcification and coronary artery calcification,” said Brian Mattingly, MD, breast imaging radiologist with Medical Center Jewish East, part of KentuckyOne Health. “This could give us another tool for identifying coronary artery disease and helping patients who suffer from it.”

Next Steps

Risk factors for coronary artery calcification include advanced age, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and a history of smoking. Coronary artery calcification can take years to develop and is often a symptom-free condition until it is advanced.

Mammogram results that include signs of breast calcium buildup can help start conversations about heart disease before the condition becomes serious. If calcium buildup is discovered, doctors can perform further screenings to determine if patients also have other known risks of heart disease, such as high cholesterol, or if the buildup is a symptom of more advanced coronary artery disease.

“Mammograms are already a useful tool and could prove even more beneficial once additional studies tell us more about their potential for identifying coronary artery disease,” Dr. Mattingly said. “We’re excited to see where this research leads and about carefully applying it to our patient population once more evidence and best practices are established.”

To schedule your digital mammogram today, find a location near you or call 502.587.4327.

This article originally appeared in the 2017 Fall edition of One Health Magazine. Sign up for your free subscription.