The Importance of Monitoring Your Own Breast Health, Beyond Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Think pink.

With October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, coming to an end, it’s important to note that while pink signage may be replaced, the fight against breast cancer continues.

Rand J. Stack, MD, a Westmed radiologist, and one of the selected doctors on our Top Doctors 2018, helps readers take their health into their own hands with his recently published The Breast Health Checklist: Simple Checklists to Keep You Organized, Informed, and In Control. Stack, who specializes in mammography, breast imaging, and breast biopsy, explains in this easy-to-understand book, risk factors and actions that may reduce your risk of breast cancer. He also explains symptoms, how biopsies work, what kind of questions you should ask your surgeon before surgery, among important factors to consider if diagnosed.

Dr. Rand J. Stack and his new book, “The Breast Health Checklist: Simple Checklists to Keep You Organized, Informed, and In Control”

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Stack explains his reasoning for publishing the book: “My goal in writing this book was to create a handy, easy to understand reference guide that answers the most common questions that women have about their breast health.” While he clarifies that the book does not attempt to be an encyclopedia of breast health information, or a medical textbook, “The checklist format allows women to approach a wide range of breast health questions in an organized and thorough fashion… By explaining each step in the process of working up and treating a breast problem, The Breast Health Checklist will reduce a patient’s anxiety, give her a greater sense of confidence, and allow her to be a proactive participant in her own healthcare.”

Lyda E. Rojas, MD, FACS (left), is a board certified general surgeon who specializes in breast surgery, and is the director of breast surgery at CareMount Medical and Putnam Hospital Center. Rojas says that establishing regular breast self-exams is important to detect changes in a woman’s breast so that she may notify her health care provider. It is important to understand breast cancer and the latest medical advances that can help you beat it. Rojas says, “The latest medical advances for breast cancer are related to targeted therapy.”

After discussing with your physician your lifetime risk for developing breast cancer, Rojas says the following guidelines are suggested:

For average risk woman (less than 15%), discuss with your physician annual screenings between the ages of 40-45 until the age of 54. Afterwards, depending on your risk, screening may be annually or biennial.

If your life expectancy over the age of 75 is considered to be greater than 10 years, screening mammograms should continue.

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For women of intermediate risk (15% to 20%), annual screening mammograms should begin at age 40.

For high-risk women (greater than or equal to 20%), consider annual screenings with both mammogram and breast MRI with and without gadolinium six months apart from each other.

For women who have a family history of breast cancer at a young age screening should begin 10 years younger than the age of the family member who was diagnosed.

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