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Breast cancer survival starts with screenings
Published: 9/20/2021
One cannot stress enough the importance of detecting breast cancer early. It’s why Dr. Cynthia Vakhariya, a medical oncologist with Ascension Providence, is worried about the impact another COVID-19 surge could have.

Dr. Vakhariya said because of the pandemic Ascension Providence Hospital in Novi and Southfield saw 10,000 less patients over the last year. And knowing that 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime, getting people in for their screenings is vital.

“If patients are not screened and we delay diagnosis, the cancer can be more advanced,” Dr. Vakhariya said. “And when the cancer is more advanced, full recovery can be harder to attain.”

When caught early, breast cancer is very treatable. According to the American Cancer Society, there are more than 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. Dr. Vakhariya said treatment advances and education efforts to get people screened is producing more survivors each year. “More awareness
comes from more patients surviving, and more patients surviving is a result of timely diagnosis and treatment.”

The five-year breast cancer-specific survival rate for stage 1 is 98-100%, stage 2 is 90-99%, and stage 3 is 66-98%. Those numbers further stress the importance of early detection and that women should start receiving an annual mammography screening at age 40. As for risk factors, the main one is being born female, followed by getting older. Most breast cancers are found in women aged 55 and older.

As for what you can control, a healthy lifestyle helps lower your risk of some cancers and other conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Being physically active, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol and to a lesser degree, eating fruits and vegetables and not smoking are linked to a lower risk of breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

If you are due for a screening, the Ascension Elliott Breast Care Center located on the campus of Ascension
Providence Hospital in Novi offers the most advanced digital mammography options, personalized for each patient.

The team at Ascension Providence has access to on-site radiology support and provides multiple breast screening options including: 3D mammography, 2D digital mammography, breast ultrasound, bone density tests, 3D biopsy/stereotactic biopsy, and ultrasound-guided biopsy.

Those interested in scheduling a mammogram can do so at ascension.org/MichiganMammogram. Before you make your appointment, make sure you have your mammogram referral from your doctor and bring it to your appointment. They also offer extended and weekend hours.