Breast health demands ongoing awareness and diligence.
Sweekriti Adhikari, DO, medical oncologist hematologist with Our Lady of Lourdes J.D. Moncus Cancer Center, shares valuable insights on breast cancer, its risk factors and proactive strategies for your breast health.
Multiple Diagnoses: Uncommon But Not Impossible
Three-time cancer survivor Trudy Malbrough stands as a testament to human resilience.
Dr. Adhikari says multiple breast cancer occurrences like this are rare. “It does happen, but not very commonly. She attributes such recurrences to the intricate biology of the disease. Factors like hormone receptivity and genetic mutations play pivotal roles in how cancers respond to treatments.
Identifying Risk Factors
Some of the risk factors that put people at a higher risk for breast cancer include genetic mutations and prolonged exposure to estrogen, which can be caused by hormone therapy, early first period and late menopause.
“Family history, especially young family members with breast cancer, is definitely a risk factor as well,” Dr. Adhikari says. Other factors include dense breast tissue and repeated benign biopsies.
Prioritize Your Breast Health
Annual mammograms are key for women over 40. If you have a family member who was diagnosed with breast cancer, your annual screenings should begin when you are 10 years younger than they were at diagnosis.
Self-exams are also very important, and Dr. Adhikari urges vigilance. “You know your body, and you’re going to know any changes you experience,” she says. “Yes, you may have false positives, meaning you feel something and it’s nothing at all, but you should be doing those self-exams.”
Taking care of your overall health through exercise and a healthy diet will reap benefits for your breast health as well. “Always keep yourself as healthy as possible – it definitely does help in the long-term,” Dr. Adhikari says. “People just need to be on top of their health.”
Busting Breast Cancer Myths
When asked what misinformation she’d like to correct, Dr. Adhikari says she often sees patients waiting too long or dismissing a lump.
“We often see things like, ‘I felt something and it wasn’t really bothering me, so I just waited,’” she says. “Definitely it’s not a good idea. I would say be over-cautious and go see your doctors.”
While it may be completely benign, waiting too long if it is cancer can have terrible consequences. Early detection significantly enhances successful treatment.
Another myth to bust: that breast cancer is gender-specific or only happens to women.
“Men can also get breast cancer, so we need to be careful in family history,” Dr. Adhikari says. Men with a family history, especially with a genetic mutation that makes them more predisposed to develop cancer, should get regular screenings.
Comprehensive Cancer Care at Our Lady of Lourdes
The holistic approach to care at Our Lady of Lourdes J.D. Moncus Cancer Center, sets us apart.
“We treat the whole patient, offering chemo, immunotherapy and supportive care,” Dr. Adhikari says. Services include survivorship programs and nutritional support.
“We’re here for patients,” she says. “We can help them throughout their journey whether they were survivors or currently going through a new diagnosis. We give them support in whatever way we can.”