Doctor: The best prevention for breast cancer is early detection

Published 10:07 pm Tuesday, October 23, 2018

When it comes to breast cancer, doctors say early detection is best.

Dr. Burnett Hanson, medical director of radiation oncology at the Mississippi Cancer Institute in McComb, recommends self-checks and mammograms for detecting cancerous lumps.

“Screening is the best way to find the cancer early,” he said.

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He suggests getting the first mammogram at age 40, or at 35 if there’s a family history of breast cancer.

“I am an advocate of the screening because it can save lives. And the new 3D mammograms can detect more legions at an earlier and smaller stage. It’s a more accurate test so we advocate for that also,” he said.

When it comes to self-exams, he suggests picking a day each month to schedule it and then do it consistently to establish a baseline. That way, changes are more noticeable.

Hanson said the best prevention is to be aware of your own body, and if there are noticeable physical changes, see your doctor.

While breast self-exams aren’t recommended as the only type of breast cancer screening, it’s important to become familiar with the way your breasts normally look and feel. This may help you notice a change in your breasts.

“If she notices a change, talk to somebody,” he said. “A lot of young women with breast cancer, it’s found on self breast examination. Knowing your body is important, and if you ignore it (the self exam) you won’t know the changes to bring it to that attention of the doctor.”

Some doctors may suggest the newer 3D mammography, which allows them to examine breast tissue layer by layer like the pages of a book. Instead of viewing all the complexities of breast tissue in a flat 2D image, fine details are more visible and no longer hidden by the tissue above or below.

While there’s no cure for cancer, individuals can go a long way in helping prevent the disease by following a healthy diet, moderate exercise and avoiding tobacco and alcohol.

Moderate exercise is important.

“That’s not going out and trying to be an Olympic athlete, but moderate exercise three times a week would decrease your risk of cancer along with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and all that,” he said.