BR General encourages screenings, self-care during Breast Cancer Awareness month
BATON ROUGE - October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and as the second most common cancer among women in the United States, health experts say it's vital for women to be screened.
This encouragement comes amid a startling decrease in the number of women getting mammograms. Doctors at Baton Rouge General note that since the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact the capital area, a concerning 15 percent drop in the number of women making and keeping their mammogram appointments has occurred.
Health experts suspect many patients feel they're either too busy amid the coronavirus pandemic and its ramifications to make time for a mammogram, or too fearful of contracting COVID-19 to venture out to a medical facility.
However, doctors at Baton Rouge General have assured the public their facilities are thoroughly sanitized and staff are implementing all federal, state, and local requirements designed to keep patients safe and healthy.
Dr. Candace Moore, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Baton Rouge General, spoke with WBRZ's Nadeen Abusada during a Thursday morning interview and stressed the importance of getting screened for breast cancer, even amid a pandemic.
"Screening is just as important now as it ever was," Dr. Moore said. "It's so much easier to catch something and treat it sooner than it is to have an advanced disease and try to manage that."
Dr. Moore went on to say there may be more treatment options available to a patient if breast cancer is caught early.
Treatment options for breast cancer may include:
-Surgery. An operation where doctors cut out cancer tissue.
-Chemotherapy. Using special medicines to shrink or kill the cancer cells. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given in your veins, or sometimes both.
-Hormonal therapy. Blocks cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow.
-Biological therapy. Works with your body’s immune system to help it fight cancer cells or to control side effects from other cancer treatments.
-Radiation therapy. Using high-energy rays (similar to X-rays) to kill the cancer cells.
According to the CDC, more than one treatment option is often used.
Dr. Everett J. Bonner, a specialist in diseases of the breast at Baton Rouge General, told WBRZ many patients who undergo one or more of the treatments find them successful.
"The treatments are so, so effective now that it seems to me the chances of getting it detected and treated successfully are very, very high," Dr. Bonner told Abusada.
Health experts recommend that most women between 50 to 74 years of age get a mammogram every two years.
It's also suggested that women between 40 to 49 years of age speak with their doctor or other health care professional about when to start and how often to get a mammogram.
That said, breast cancer doesn't only affect women. Men are also susceptible to the illness and it's important they keep up with their breast health as well.
Dr. Moore told Abusada, "It's a much more rare thing for a man to have it. But it does happen. So, it's still important that men do a breast exam at home as well and make sure they don't feel anything different too."
According to the CDC, some warning signs of breast cancer may include:
-New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit).
-Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
-Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
-Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
-Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
-Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
-Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
-Pain in any area of the breast.
Typically, Baton Rouge General promotes awareness in October by giving away pink pumpkins for people to display at their homes in honor of breast cancer survivors.
But, because there are usually more than 5,000 people at the pop-up pink pumpkin patch, Baton Rouge General is skipping the patch this year. Instead, there will be breast cancer awareness reminders in other ways at the hospital and around town:
-A Protect Your Pumpkins display will pop up at all three hospitals – Bluebonnet, Mid City and Ascension – as well as all Baton Rouge General Physician clinics
-Protect Your Pumpkins yard signs will pop up overnight across the Baton Rouge area, in the yards of breast cancer survivors and Baton Rouge General employees
-Pink Protect Your Pumpkins masks for sale in the BRG gift shops
-Follow the #ProtectYourPumpkins movement on social media
On the Bluebonnet campus, the pink display is located along Bluebonnet Blvd. near the intersection with Picardy Ave. At Mid City, the display is located on the corner of Acadian Thrwy. and North Blvd. And at the soon-to-open Ascension hospital, the display is near the hospital sign at the entrance, facing Hwy. 73.
Baton Rouge General is also hosting a special breast cancer screening event on October 17 called 'Mammos & Mimosas." Click here for more information on the event.