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What to do after you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer

breast cancerAs a nurse navigator for breast cancer patients, I connect with individuals just minutes after they are diagnosed. This is an emotional time and often I get asked, “What do I do now?”

Below are three suggestions I make to patients after they have been told they have breast cancer:

  • Utilize your Care Team

A lot of the time women turn to the World Wide Web for answers to their cancer questions. Yes, the Internet is a fast and convenient resource for information, but unfortunately, not everything online is reliable.

I encourage families to make a list of their concerns and questions to take to their Care Team.  Having questions ready to ask will help your team provide you with the information you need to feel secure in your treatment options.

Try not to compare breast cancer treatments with other breast cancer survivors. There are more than 15 different types of breast cancer, and each case may be treated differently. Hearing other peoples’ stories of cancer can just create more fear and confusion. Continue Reading »

Breast cancer awareness month at Affinity Health System

PINK-01At Affinity Health System, October is lining up to be a great opportunity to support breast cancer awareness month. From events to fundraisers, we’ve got it all.

Our challenge for you is to tell the women in your life to be proactive about their health. Remind them to get their annual mammogram. If they are too young to get a mammogram, then encourage them to have an annual checkup. We can’t stress the importance of women’s health enough. So link a pinky and make a promise to all of the women in your life to keep up on their health. Here are some ways to do exactly that! Continue Reading »

Myths vs. Facts on Breast Cancer

shutterstock_64976767There is a lot of information out there about breast cancer, but not all of it is accurate. Here are some common myths and facts surrounding breast cancer.

Myth #1:  Breast cancer is the number one enemy of women.

Fact:  The number one enemy is NOT breast cancer but the late detection of breast cancer. Breast cancer detected early can usually be successfully treated.

Myth #2:  Finding a lump is the only way to detect breast cancer.

Fact:  Some cancers do not form a lump. A visual exam of the breast can often show symptoms that need to be reported to a health care provider.

Symptoms include:

Continue Reading »

The importance of early detection

Did you know that about one in eight women in the United States (12 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime?  Or that 70-80 percent of those breast cancers occur in women with no family history? Most breast cancers occur as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations. Found in its early stages, the majority of breast cancers can be treated successfully. Therefore, it is vital that ALL women take the time to ensure that they are doing all they can to screen for this common cancer.

One simple thing that all women can do is a regular breast self exam (read here for five steps of breast self exam). Though breast self exams aren’t guaranteed to find breast cancer, their benefit comes in the fact that doing them regularly will let a women know what her breasts normally look and feel like. This knowledge will make a women more likely to notice if a change ever occurs in their breasts. Some of these changes are: Continue Reading »

Breast Cancer: A journey of innovation

Breast cancer continues to be one of the most common cancers in women and maintains a high profile both in the media and in women’s minds. While it is certainly a scary diagnosis, it is exciting how much progress has been made in the treatment of breast cancer in recent years.

The first major surgical advances came in the 1970s when research showed there was the same survival rate for women who underwent breast preservation using lumpectomy (surgical removal of tumor[s] in the breast) and radiation, as there was for women who had a mastectomy (complete removal of the breast).

This discovery, along with rapid developments in breast reconstruction, opened a whole new avenue of surgical options for women. No longer were women faced with a body-altering mastectomy as their only choice of treatment. Breast biopsies also started to become to become less invasive, as the need for an operating room procedure was steadily replaced by image-guided needle biopsies. Continue Reading »

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