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NEWS | Oct. 19, 2016

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: early detection saves lives

By Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

According to the American Cancer Society, about one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime.


Joint Base Langley-Eustis’ women’s health clinics and mammography departments are encouraging women during October, recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, to come in for regularly scheduled women’s health appointments and mammograms in order to detect and possibly prevent breast cancer.


“Being proactive is very important because the earlier we detect an issue with the breast, the better the five-year prognosis and the survival rate will be,” said Dr. Edward Boston, MacDonald Army Health Center Women’s Health Clinic physician. “The longer patients wait and put off coming in for regular appointments, the higher the risk involved if breast cancer is found.”


Annual mammograms are recommended for women over the age of 40 and those who have a family history of breast cancer, as their risk is higher.


Melissa McRae, 633rd Surgical Operations Squadron command secretary, discovered just three years ago that an older relative had previously been treated for breast cancer, and immediately scheduled a mammogram which came back negative for any evidence of breast cancer.


When she reached the age of 40, she scheduled her annual mammogram and was called back for additional testing after the technician reviewed her scans. While her additional testing did not reveal breast cancer, it was determined she is at a higher risk for developing breast cancer so she will be required to come back for more testing regularly.


“It’s always been drilled into my brain to ensure I am proactive when it came to my health, but once I found out my family history I knew I definitely had to come in instead of putting off those appointments like a lot of people do,” said McRae. “I wanted to be sure that we would have a better chance of catching it early since I am at a higher risk, so that we can fight it and I have a better chance of being around for my son.”


Clinic physicians also recommend performing monthly self breast exams to look for any abnormal lumps in the breasts, abnormal breast discharge, abnormal breast asymmetry or redness of the breasts and report any findings to their primary care provider as soon as possible so they can order testing.


To educate the JBLE community on the importance of prevention and early detection of breast cancer, MCAHC has display tables in their dining facility with information, as well as a tree decorated in pink gear for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the Women’s Health Clinic.


Langley Hospital’s mammography department will be providing mammograms on a walk-in basis Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. They will also host a “Pink Off” competition where hospital employees will wear pink and compete for prizes.


For more information, visit the display tables at MCAHC, or contact the MCAHC Women’s Health Clinic at 314-7606 or the Langley Mammography department at 764-6497.