One in eight American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Every woman’s breast cancer journey is unique. Guthrie’s accredited breast cancer program delivers individualized patient-centered care. We assist women in navigating through breast cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship.
Though breast cancer is most commonly thought of as a disease that affects women, it does occur in men. And while it is most common in older men, it can occur at any age.
Catching breast cancer in early stages, often before there are symptoms, through regular annual screening gives women the best chance of beating breast cancer. For most women, annual mammography is the best screening method. For women at higher risk, other types of screening and more frequent screening may be appropriate.
If a diagnostic evaluation is required, we help you schedule the next steps. You may need further imaging or a biopsy. Most biopsies can be done minimally invasively by a radiologist. Your evaluation may also include an appointment with a breast surgeon who will review the results and help you develop a plan of care.
Follow a Low-Fat Diet, Rich in Plant-Based Foods
If you’re a woman, would you take steps to help reduce your chance of dying from breast cancer if you could? Well, you may be able to do that.
Findings released in May 2019 from a very large Women’s Health Initiative clinical trial showed that postmenopausal women who had breast cancer and followed a lower-fat diet, including a higher intake of vegetables, fruits, and grains, had a lower risk of dying than women who maintained a higher-fat diet.
The study involved over 48,000 women across the United States. The women, who did not have breast cancer at the beginning of the study, were randomly assigned to two groups. One group was told to follow their usual diet, which included about 32% of daily calories from fat on average. The other group was instructed to try to reduce their fat intake to 20% and to eat more vegetables, fruits, and grains.
The lower-fat group wasn’t able to maintain an average fat intake of 20% – it averaged about 25% fat – but women in that group who developed breast cancer had a lower risk of dying from any cause than women in the higher-fat group who developed breast cancer.
During the 20 years that the women in the study were followed, 3,374 cases of breast cancer were diagnosed. Of those women, the women in the lower-fat diet group had a 21% lower risk of dying from breast cancer and a 15% lower risk of dying from any cause.
Although the findings of this study don’t conclusively show that eating a lower-fat diet with more plant-based food will prevent breast cancer from occurring in the first place, it does add to the mounting evidence that demonstrates a link between diet and diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
The diet followed in this study was not very restrictive and did not require the women to eliminate any food groups. It consisted of making small changes such as increasing fruit, vegetable, and grain intake, as well as reducing fat intake, making it relatively achievable for those looking to make similar changes. So if you’re looking to stack the odds in your favor when it comes to breast cancer – what you put on your plate matters. Eating more plant-based foods and reducing the amount of fat in your diet is one positive step you can take for your health.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
- Nipple discharge
- Skin changes
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, talk to your primary care provider about your concerns. Or make an appointment with our breast specialist by calling 570-887-2850.
Should You Have Breast Reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction surgery is an option for many women who have a mastectomy. The surgery may also be done after a lumpectomy, although it’s not always needed. The decision to have breast reconstruction is a personal one and should be discussed with your provider.
The biggest reason women choose to have breast reconstruction is to feel better about their bodies. The surgery can make your breast area look similar to what it looked like before cancer treatment, although it will not look exactly the same. Nevertheless, it can improve self-image and boost confidence.
Often the best time to have reconstruction surgery is at the same time as a mastectomy. This results in the need for fewer surgeries and less anesthesia. The skin retracts after surgery, so the longer you wait to do the reconstruction after a mastectomy, the less skin you may have available. Immediate reconstructive surgery may also be better for a breast cancer patient’s self-esteem.
If you will need additional treatment after your mastectomy, such as radiation therapy, your doctor may recommend that you delay reconstruction surgery until after radiation is completed. It may also be suggested that you put off reconstruction if you smoke since smoking can affect healing. Other factors that may also affect healing include previous surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, diabetes, and some medications. If you are too thin or obese, or you have blood circulation problems, you may need to delay reconstruction surgery or may not be a candidate for the surgery at all.
It’s best to discuss your options with your Guthrie provider before you have a mastectomy or lumpectomy if you are considering breast reconstruction surgery. Knowing your options ahead of time can help you make a more informed decision and may even help you deal with some of the emotional effects of undergoing breast cancer treatment.
High-Risk Breast Cancer Clinic
Certain factors put some women at high risk for breast cancer. Breast specialists at Guthrie’s High-Risk Breast Cancer Clinic help women assess their risk, plan the right types and frequency of screenings, and learn preventative measures. We also provide ongoing care and follow-up with a breast specialist.
Make heart care part of your cancer treatment
Did you know that cancer treatments, including radiation therapy, immunotherapy drugs, and some chemotherapy, can affect your heart? Even if you’ve completed your treatment, you may be at risk of heart failure, narrowing or leaking heart valves, abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, or blockage of heart arteries that can lead to a heart attack.
The Guthrie Cardiac and Vascular Center offers specialized services for cancer patients, including:
• Echocardiogram with strain imaging to assess changes in heart function associated with cancer treatment
• Consultation with your oncology care team to determine possible modifications to your cancer treatment that may reduce your risk of heart problems
Cardiologist Najeeb Rehman, MD, FACC, FASE, FASNC provides cardio-oncology services at the Guthrie Big Flats location. To make an appointment for a consultation, call 866-GUTHRIE (866-488-4743).
Wherever you are in the treatment process, Guthrie can monitor your heart health so you can focus on your recovery.