A Question/Answer Session with Cindy Miller, RN, CN-BN and Breast Patient Navigator at the Tri-Cities Cancer Center
Q: Should young women be screened for breast cancer?
A: Women of any age can be affected by breast cancer. I encourage women to do regular breast self-exams. If you know how they normally feel, you are most likely to know if something has changed. Women should begin screening mammograms at the age of 40 (or younger with a significant family history). The good news is the majority of breast lumps are benign (non-cancerous). If you experience any changes in your breasts, make an appointment and have it checked out. As we age, the risk of breast cancer increases. However, approximately 25% of women being diagnosed are under the age of 50.
Q: Should men be screened for breast cancer?
A: I encourage men to do regular breast self-exams. If you know how they normally feel, you are most likely to know if something has changed. The good news is the majority of breast lumps are benign (non-cancerous). If you experience any changes in your breasts, make an appointment and have it checked out. Men of any age can be affected by breast cancer, however as we age, the risk of breast cancer increases. The risk for men is low and the primary symptom is a lump in the breast.
Q: Are young women at more risk than others in the general population?
A: Although younger women have a lower risk of getting breast cancer, studies have shown that cancer in young females can spread more quickly than in older populations. Please don’t delay in getting care. Breast cancer caught early generally has more treatment options and is likely to have a better outcome.
Q: I’ve had a couple of friends diagnosed with breast cancer while they were pregnant. Is that unusual?
A: It is very rare. However, there are factors relevant to this condition. First, women are having children later in life and second, there are significant hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy that promote changes in the breast. Women should have a thorough examination from a provider early in pregnancy to determine the health of the mother and baby.
Q: Many people are often worried about the cost of exams and its effect on their family’s finances. Any suggestions?
A: Yes! Thanks to generous donations to our Foundation, Tri-Cities Cancer Center offers a free breast and cervical cancer screening throughout the year. Additionally, with a provider’s order, we offer free mammogram and ultrasound coupons for men and women who are uninsured or underinsured. Check our website at www.tccancer.org or call (509) 737-3420 for information about upcoming screenings. Our Nurse Navigators can help men and women through every stage and aspect of their treatment, including support for medical needs, financial issues and simply learning how to cope with cancer.
Q: Where can women or men go to meet with and learn from others who have been in this situation?
A: The Cancer Center has two breast cancer support groups. ‘Warrior Sisterhood’ is for women who were diagnosed with cancer under the age of 40. Women with any type of cancer may attend (breast cancer is the primary focus). They meet the 2nd Wednesday of each month, 5:30 to 7:00PM. Please call 737-3400 before attending, as this group meets at alternate locations. Our ‘Breast Cancer Support Group’ meets the 1st and 3rd Friday of each month, 9:00 to 11:00 AM, and is for women or men of any age needing support. This group meets at the Tri-Cities Cancer Center. In addition, our Nurse Navigators and Chaplains are available to help breast cancer patients and their families.
Contact Cindy at (509) 737-3418 or CindyM@tccancer.org for additional information.