Health
Thursday, August 5. 1999
Early detection of breast cancer is vital
By Jill Green, RN, OCN Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
At age 40 women should begin to have annual mammograms.
There has been a great deal of controversy related to the appropriate age to begin having regular mammograms. There have been studies showing that many cancers detected by mammography in women in their forties have been found in early stages. This is very important because frequently tumors grow faster in women prior to menopause than after. The American Cancer Society considers "mammography the most effective screening method for breast cancer because it has much greater sensitivity for detecting cancer.
"Studies suggest that regular mammography may reduce deaths from breast cancer by 30 percent in women aged 50 and over."
If a personal or family history of breast cancer is present these guidelines should be modified. This should be discussed with your health care provider. Historically breast cancer has been one of the most feared cancers because of its impact on a womanís sexuality and self-image.
Today the diagnosis of breast cancer doesnít automatically mean radical surgery. Treatment is determined after the physician has obtained information about the size of the tumor, the type of cells it contains and whether it has spread to the lymph nodes. Other considerations are hormone receptors, the DNA content of the cells and the rate at which cells are being duplicated. Treatment may involve surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination of some or all modalities. Some tumors re treated with hormones. As a result of a study done by the National Cancer Institute, there is now a drug which can be taken to prevent breast cancer in women who are at high risk for the disease.
It is vital that all women follow the guidelines for early detection of breast cancer. If a lump is found, see your physician immediately. Most breast lumps and other changes are not cancer. Among breast conditions for which biopsies are most often done 80 percent are not cancer. Donít take chances. Early detection reduces the risk of breast cancer becoming a life-threatening problem.

Questions and Answers from the Cancer Information Service (CIS)

I recently heard about a new study to test drugs which might prevent breast cancer. Where can I get information about the study? Are any hospitals or doctors in Sussex County taking part?
You are probably referring to STAR (the Study of Tamoxifen And Raloxifene), which is being carried out to investigate the effectiveness of two drugs in reducing the risk of developing breast cancer. Tamoxifen has already been shown to reduce the chances of breast cancer in women at high risk. Raloxifene has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a drug to prevent osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, and may also reduce breast cancer risk. This national study will enroll 22,000 postmenopausal women at increased risk for breast cancer.
For more information, and to see if you may qualify, call the Cancer information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
In Delaware, the study is being carried out at two Sussex County hospitals - Beebe Medical Center and Nanticoke Memorial Hospital.

I love the ocean and spend time every weekend on the beach. Iíd appreciate the latest suggestions about how to protect my skin, since Iím 35 and have already had several bad sunburns.
If youíre going out into the sun, check your shadow - if it is shorter than you are, youíre likely to sunburn. If you will be in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., wear protective, tightly woven clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt and pants. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and stay in the shade whenever possible.
Skin specialists urge you to apply a sunscreen which blocks both UVA and UVB radiation with a Sun Protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Be sure to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, even on cloudy days. However, the National Cancer Institute notes that "sunscreen is not a substitute for avoidance of sun exposure."
For more information about you and the sun, call the Cancer Information Service (CIS) at 1-800-CANCER. Telephone information specialists are available to answer your calls from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.