Early detection can help prevent breast cancer

By Olivia Torrence
October 13, 2010

Nurse Eileen Morgans, breast care coordinator from Bryn Mawr hospital spoke at the dining room in the mansion of Cabrini College on Monday afternoon Oct. 10 to inform faculty and students about breast care awareness.

Every two minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer and every 12 minutes a woman dies of breast cancer. More than 39,000 women are expected to die of breast cancer in 2010 and already 260,000 have been diagnosed with breast cancer so far this year. So what can women do to prevent this disease?

Morgans job focuses on the delivery of health care services to patients with cancer and supporting families. She also focuses on helping women and families navigating through the prognosis and treatments that come along with breast cancer. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Widener University and is a member of the Oncology Nursing Society at Bryn Mawr hospital, which is also known as Main Line Health.

“Here’s the theme, early detection,” Morgans said during her lecture. October is breast cancer awareness month, which is why Morgans lecture was a very important one to attend. There are many different ways that women can become aware of breast cancer before it starts.

The key and easiest way to prevent breast cancer is by living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a low fat diet. Also exercising daily never hurt anyone. Starting at age 20, women should start doing self breast exams, monthly. A clinical breast exam every three years until the age of 39 is what the doctors say to do. The baseline of getting the first mammogram is 35 years old, most women start at 40.

After receiving this first mammogram, it is strongly recommended to go every year after. “I am a firm believer in yearly mammograms, it saved my life,” director of health and wellness education Chris Hyson said. Hyson is a two and a half year survivor of breast cancer and organized for Morgans to come in and talk about awareness.

Hyson went for her yearly mammogram and calcifications were detected. Calcifications can be seen on a mammogram and do not always mean breast cancer. In Hyson’s case, it did. Her cancer was aggressive stage 1, since she was diagnosed with breast cancer, pre-menopause and she got it taken care of as soon as she could. Instead of the common external-beam radiation, Hyson went through what they call mammosite recovery.

Mammosite recovery is where they expose the part of the breast where the cancer formed, and it is exposed for five days. This is an option that is available instead of a seven week process of external-beam radiation. Research has confirmed that this is a very effective and positive way to recover.

It has been proven that when breast cancer is caught earlier in the stages, the survival rate is phenomenal. The survival rate for stage one is 98 percent and the survival rate for stage four cancer is 16 percent. The treatment for cancer is a long and hellish process. It starts with surgery, then radiation (external-beam or mammosite). Next comes chemotherapy and or hormonal therapy. The very last step, if none of the above works, is plastic reconstructive surgery.

“Does insurance cover these surgeries,” help desk and support analyst of the ITR department Marnee Klein asked Morgans during the lecture. Morgans stated that most insurance will cover these surgeries. If they don’t, the hospital will usually take care of it, if the cancer is aggressive enough.

Morgans talked about the signs that can be detected in the breast when doing a self breast exam. If any of these signs show up while doing the SBE, the woman should see a doctor. A single, firm and painless lump will be visible and should be able to be felt in the breast. Portion of the skin of the breast and or underarm will swell and have an unusual appearance. The veins may become more prominent. And lastly the nipple will start to invert or develop a rash.

More and more women are starting to understand the seriousness and risks of breast cancer and are starting to take control of their own lives by listening to these awareness procedures. Breast cancer is a horrible disease, which is why there are breast cancer centers and people like Eileen Morgans to be there and do what they can to help families through this time of struggle.

“Survivorship is becoming the new buzz word,” Morgans said.

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Olivia Torrence

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