Keeping a Silent Killer at Bay: Early Detection Key in Fight against Breast Cancer

By UTCN Marlene Houngbedji

Some call it a silent killer.  So far in 2011, it has killed 39,520 and attacked nearly a quarter of a million women, according to The American Cancer Society.

It strikes indiscriminately, incapacitating women (and a few men) from all walks of life, ethnic backgrounds or social status including thousands serving in the armed forces.  This year’s numbers, though staggering by any standard, come as a positive development in the fight against breast cancer.  They show an increase in the survival rate and prompt health care professionals to allow prevention, not treatment to take center stage during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which runs through October. 

“Know your family medical history,” recommends Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jenesia Ordonia.  She stresses the importance of knowing who, in one’s family, has been diagnosed or treated for the disease and at what age. 

The youngest patient Ordonia recalls to have met was in her mid-twenties, and had a strong family history of breast cancer.  “Have your health care provider immediately check anything you suspect is abnormal,” she adds.  “Self-breast exams, a cost-free yet efficient tool in early detection, should be performed monthly in the shower, after each menstrual cycle.” 

Hormonal increase may cause temporary lumps to form during menstruations.  “Immovable, hard masses under skin tissue, lymphs in the armpits, discharge from nipples and dimpling on the skin around the breast area are symptoms to watch for while performing the exam,” advises Ordinia.  The American Cancer Society recommends requesting screenings performed by a doctor or a nurse every three years, and offers free online annual mammograms reminders on its website. 

Prevention, a healthy lifestyle and early detection will remain the first line of defense until the race for a cure against breast cancer comes to its long-awaited end. 

Learn more on prevention: 
(The ACS free mammogram reminder) (Susan G. Komen for the Cure) of the Navy Monthly Wellness Topics and Resources)

More on breast cancer awareness:

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