MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Experts say 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their life time and with October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a time to talk about how important it is to screen for early detection.
“Unfortunately, it’s very common … but the important thing is it is treatable and curable when it’s found at an early stage,” Dr. Kristin Lupinacci, WVU Medicine Breast Surgical Oncologist, said
Yearly mammograms can help detect breast cancer quickly. But people can also do their own baseline breast exams.
“When you’re in the shower, looking at your breast in the mirror, looking for any new palpable lumps any skin changes that you see in the mirror, any nipple changes, any nipple discharge. Anything like that would be something that needs to be further evaluated,” Dr. Lupinacci said.
And women aren’t the only ones at risk for Breast Cancer. Even with less Breast tissue men can still get breast cancer and without those annual mammograms they have to be on the lookout.
“So, for men it’s important to be evaluated by their primary care doctor if they feel a breast lump or obviously if they have any changes in their skin or their nipple,” Dr. Lupinacci said. “Those, even in men, should defiantly be evaluated and have imaging done.”
Dr. Lupinacci sees patients just after their Breast Cancer diagnosis to talk about their options going forward. While it’s routine for her to hear the words you have cancer, it starts some of the toughest times in life for her patients.
WVU Medicine offers services to help with that.
“We also have psychiatrists and therapists here that work with specifically our cancer patients to deal with other things associated with our cancer diagnosis. You know, depression anxiety associated with the cancer diagnosis and really just with life in general. So, we do have a lot of multi-disciplinary services here at WVU Cancer Institute to help those patients.”
Dr. Lupinacci said the most important thing is for people to get their mammograms every year.
“We recommend starting at 40 for an average risk woman to get a mammogram every year… any changes in their breast that they notice they should defiantly get to their primary care doctor, gynecologist to get evaluated as soon as they notice it,” Dr. Lupinacci said. “Don’t wait till your next annual mammogram.”
She said with breast cancer typically being curable, it feels great to help the patient through their treatment. WVU Medicine has a survivorship program to help patients with everything that comes after they get their cancer treatment.