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Pretty in Pink: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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This October you’ll be sure to see more professional sports teams with pink socks, helmet decals, and other creative pink apparel to help raise awareness for the disease that will affect one in eight women in her lifetime. I’m trying to go beyond my Pink Ribbon duties this year to educate our community about breast cancer. 

As an obstetrician and gynecologist, I encourage women to stay aware of their breast health with regular self-examinations and annual mammograms. Early detection is the most important factor in beating breast cancer!  If a woman has increased risk factors for developing this disease, then she and her physician can develop a screening strategy to catch it even earlier, if not prevent it all together. 

Risk Factors for Developing Breast Cancer

• Age: Two-thirds of invasive breast cancers occur over age 55
• Family members with breast cancer: About 10% of breast cancers are genetically related
• Dense breast tissue
• Other benign breast conditions: fibroadenomas, ductal hyperplasia, papillomatosis
• Length of exposure to hormones with early onset of menses or late menopause
• Use of combined hormones after menopause
• Alcohol consumption
• Being overweight

How to Reduce Your Risk for Breast Cancer

• Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer. The longer you are able to breastfeed, the lower the risk becomes.
• Physical activity and regular exercise, especially after menopause, helps to reduce the number of fat cells that remain to secrete estrogen, thus decreasing the time you are exposed to hormones.

What to Do Now

• Talk to your doctor if you have any of the risk factors listed above to develop an appropriate screening strategy.
• See your gynecologist yearly for breast exams.
• Start mammograms yearly at age 40 or whenever your physician recommends you begin.
• Develop a healthy lifestyle with healthy diet, alcohol only in moderation, and a regular exercise regimen.

Joining me in the fight against breast cancer is Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Flower Mound, which recently opened its new Women’s Imaging Center. In addition to bone density, conventional 2D digital mammography, breast ultrasound and stereotactic breast biopsy services, it is one of the first facilities in the area to offer tomosynthesis, also known as 3D mammography. This technology is one of the latest innovations to detect abnormalities within dense breast tissue and is a valuable tool in the early detection of breast cancer.

Working together, we are helping women to stay healthy and breast cancer-free!

Lauren Banks, M.D., is a physician at Obstetrics & Gynecology Associates.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Flower Mound is a joint venture owned by Texas Health Resources and physicians dedicated to the community and meets the definition under federal law of a physician-owned hospital. Doctors on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital.

 

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