Oncologist: Proactive is operative word
What is known about breast cancer is that it strikes about 200,000 women annually and this year alone is projected to cause nearly 40,000 deaths.
What’s not as clear to some women and men is who’s at a higher risk for the disease and what people can do so it’s detected early.
That’s where Dr. Susan Hoover, breast surgical oncologist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Regional Care Center in Sugar Land, can shed life-saving light.
Hoover is trained in the latest minimally invasive surgery techniques and has extensive experience with the surgical side of accelerated partial breast irradiation, a procedure that targets the tumor while reducing the effects to healthy tissue. She also consults with patients with benign and malignant breast disease.
“In general, 80 percent of breast cancers are what we call sporadic, meaning we don’t know what caused it to appear in a particular patient,” Hoover said. “Fifteen percent are what we attribute to familial history, in which a close relative also has been diagnosed. Five percent are due to genetic mutations, meaning the genetic makeup of certain patients predisposes them to developing breast cancer. These mutations make these women at very high risk for breast cancer.”
Women aren’t the only ones at risk. Although men account for less than 1 percent of breast cancer cases, 2,109 men are diagnosed with breast cancer, and 410 lose their battle with the disease each year.
“Proactive” is the operative word in waging war against breast cancer. That means knowing the shape and feel of one’s breasts, and making healthy lifestyle choices, according to Hoover. She recommends that women do regular self-breast exams and consult their doctor if they discover anything unusual.
“Visible signs that should prompt a woman to call her physician include any changes in the breast like lumps, skin changes such as dimpling or rashes, nipple discharge or retraction,” Hoover said.
By age 40, women should start receiving annual mammograms, she said. Women with a family history of breast cancer should start receiving annual mammograms even earlier.
“Mammograms save lives because they detect cancers at their earliest stages,” Hoover said. “The earlier we find the breast cancer, the more options we have for treating the cancer effectively and successfully.”
Healthy lifestyle choices that may help to prevent breast cancer include maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and limiting the consumption of alcohol.
Paul R. Kopenkoskey and Megan Mattingly-Arthur are freelance writers. They can be reached at email@example.com.
ABOUT DR. SUSAN HOOVER
OCCUPATION: Breast surgical oncologist
COMMUNITY CONNECTION: Works at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Regional Care Center in Sugar Land
FAST FACT: Hoover is trained in the latest minimally invasive breast cancer surgery techniques.
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