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Breast Cancer Awareness

State-of-the-art screening and treatments make breast cancer more treatable than ever.

Publication: Denton County Magazine

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. That’s one in eight moms, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, nieces, colleagues and friends who will hear the words: "You have breast cancer."

While treatment has advanced considerably in the past few years, the importance of early detection is important, even amid pandemic concerns.

"Breast cancer doesn't quarantine. It doesn't change and it doesn't go away," said Anne Warren, senior director with Solis Mammography.

Sadly, the number of cancer screening tests received by women through the CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program declined by 87% for breast cancer during April 2020 as compared with averages of the previous five Aprils. Getting screenings at the recommended times -- and not delaying them -- has far-reaching implications.

"If something is found, it will be at an earlier stage, which means it's more treatable, less invasive and less costly to your life and pocketbook,” Warren said.

Solis Mammography recommends that women of average risk come in annually for mammograms starting at age 40, unless their doctor has recommended starting screening at a younger age. Solis Mammography at Medical City Denton offers both annual screenings and diagnostic mammograms, including SmartCurve mammography technology giving women "a much more comfortable mammogram -- trust me!" Warren said.

To get a mammogram, no doctor's order is required, and women can schedule an appointment online. The mammography technicians are female, and radiologists on staff specialize in breast radiology, meaning that a mammogram at Solis at Medical City Denton is a different experience than women may have received elsewhere, Warren said.

"It's not a clinical exam; it's a personal exam," she emphasized.

While 85% of breast cancer diagnoses are in women without a family history of the disease, women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutation have a 55% to 85% chance of developing breast cancer if appropriate surveillance and preventative strategies are not implemented.

"Understanding their genetic risk can help someone make important decisions about their health,” said Dr. Charles Kurkul, medical oncologist at Texas Oncology-Denton and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton. The Genetic Risk Evaluation and Testing (GREAT) program at Texas Oncology–Denton provides an in-depth assessment for patients with a personal or family history of cancer, including breast cancer.

"Precision medicine has rapidly evolved our approach to breast cancer treatment, allowing physicians to select treatments, including therapies offered in clinical trials, that are most likely to help patients based on a genetic understanding of their disease," Kurkul explained. Using information about genetic changes in a tumor, doctors can recommend personalized treatments for individuals with cancer.

A comprehensive cancer center, Texas Oncology–Denton provides breast cancer patients with access to genetic evaluations and testing, precision medicine and clinical trials, in addition to vital services such as medical oncology, hematology, radiation therapy, and breast surgery. Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton is building a new breast-care center that will provide screening and diagnostic mammography using 3D imaging technology, as well as breast ultrasound and biopsy, MRI breast and MRI breast biopsy, stereotactic biopsy and bone density assessments. It is scheduled to open in mid-2022.

View the full story at Denton County Magazine.

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