Helping Women Evaluate Risk Of Breast Cancer
In 2007, more than 178,000 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, other than skin cancer, and it is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer.
Little Company of Mary Hospital and Health Care Centers, located near Chicago in Evergreen Park, Illinois, has developed a new web site to help women learn about breast cancer and evaluate their own breast cancer risk. Knowing one's risk can significantly improve a woman's chance for surviving breast cancer. The size of a breast cancer and how far it has spread are the most important factors in predicting a patient's prognosis. The earlier breast cancer is found, the better the chances that treatment will work.
Little Company's web site features a free confidential on-line risk test to help women evaluate their breast cancer risk. The web site's breast cancer risk test evaluates a woman's risk based on certain genetic and lifestyle factors that doctors believe affect one's breast cancer risk, such as: personal and family medical history, obesity, ethnicity, menstrual periods, smoking, alcohol consumption, and others.
"Today, breast cancer is a highly curable disease, and in the big picture, women's lives should not be affected by it," says Dr. Olga Ivanov, medical director of Little Company's Comprehensive Breast Health Center. The goal is to diagnose cancers before they begin to cause symptoms. "We want women not just to be relieved from the cancer but to resume the quality of life they had prior to having it," says Dr. Ivanov.
According to the American Cancer Society, early detection saves many thousands of lives every year. Women who are age 40 or older should have a screening mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health. Women known to be at high risk may start mammograms when they are younger, or have extra tests and exams.
New tests, such as digital mammograms, have proven vital to the early detection of breast cancer. In addition, computer-aided detection (CAD) technology for mammography serves as a "second reading" for radiologists, alerting them to areas on films that need more attention.
Dr. Ivanov assures women that the final goal of treating breast cancer is no longer only to remove the tumor, but now also to preserve or reconstruct the breast to achieve a beautiful aesthetic result. "During the past two decades, surgery for breast cancer has undergone a revolution, which culminated in a more refined, less invasive approach to operation."