September 30, 2009


WAYNESBORO, Tenn. — In recognition of October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, women across the country are increasing their awareness about the importance of early detection of the disease. According to Franklin Cole, director of radiology at Wayne Medical Center, various routine screenings play an imperative role in the fight against breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of the breast. It is considered a heterogeneous disease because it can differ by individual, age group and the kinds of cells within the tumors themselves. It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Tennessee’s female population—diagnosed almost twice as often as any other malignancy, according to the Tennessee Cancer Registry. It is also the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Tennessee women ages 25 to 44.

“Mammography screening remains the best available method to detect breast cancer early. However, there are several tips to keep in mind for the early detection of breast cancer as well as possible prevention,” said Cole. He offers the following recommendations:

  • Know your risk. Talk to your family and your health care provider to learn about your family’s health history and its possible impact on your personal risk for breast cancer.
  • Know what is normal for you. Women should know how their breasts normally feel and report any breast changes promptly to their health care providers. Changes such as a lump or tissue thickening, redness or darkening, swelling, and itching should be reported immediately. Breast self exams should be done monthly by women starting in their 20s.
  • Get screened. Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 for those at average risk. A clinical breast exam should be part of a periodic health exam every three years for women in their 20s and 30s, and every year for women in their 40s and older. If you are at a higher risk, ask your doctor which screening tests are right for you.
  • Make healthy lifestyle choices. Recent research shows that exercising, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding excessive alcohol can help prevent breast cancer. According to data released from the World Cancer Research Fund charity, at least four out of 10 breast cancer cases could be prevented by healthy lifestyle changes.

“Early detection tests for breast cancer save thousands of lives each year, and many more lives could be saved if even more women and their health care providers took advantage of these tests,” said Cole.

At the Wayne Medical Center Radiology Department, mammograms are conducted by a certified mammographer and are reviewed by a board certified radiologist. Women receiving a mammogram performed in the month of October will receive a free gift. Mammograms are performed Monday through Friday with flexible scheduling for patients. A physician’s order is required. To schedule a mammogram, call 931.722.5411.