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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: How early detection could save lives

Crestwood Women's Center says early detection could save lives as 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month and medical professionals urge you to always be vigilant of the disease as early detection can save lives.

Julie McCain, the Clinical Manager of Crestwood Women's Center says, "you see the slogan everywhere, 'Early Detection Saves Lives.' It is so very true. I've been in breast care for a little over 20 years and that has not changed."

She shares that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. This is why she encourages the importance of mammograms.

"35 to 40 is that time when you want to have that baseline mammogram, that first one that just kind of starts establishing your breast tissue pattern because it's like a thumbprint. Everybody's different. So we want to establish what your normal is first. And then at 40 , all women, we want to have annual mammograms," McCain said.

Although early detection is important for older women, McCain says women in their 20's should begin self-breast exams to check for lumps.

She says that 75% of all patients diagnosed with breast cancer have no known risk factors.

"We don't want to get complacent and feel like, 'oh, I'm not at risk,' so I don't need to be screened. It's not true. Screening is there for patients that don't have any signs or symptoms…we want to find it when it's early and tiny and can be treated with the best outcome," McCain said.

Those in the high-risk category are women with first degree relatives who have a history of breast cancer. She also says age, smoking, alcohol-use and having a high-fat diet can play a role.

And for those who are scared to receive a breast exam, McCain wants you to know the examiners are there to help.

"Your team, your caregivers, they're there for a reason. And in breast imaging, it's because there are people who are passionate about what they do. So let us know if you have special concerns so that we can accommodate those on the front end and alleviate all those fears as much as possible or help you walk through that," McCain said.

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