Hammerling-Hodgers: Don’t delay if you have any signs of breast cancer – Florida Today


Posted: October 21, 2020 at 12:53 am

Susan Hammerling-Hodgers, Special to FLORIDA TODAY Published 9:31 a.m. ET Oct. 20, 2020

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Most people have had a friend or family member who has been diagnosed, has survived, or passed away from breast cancer.(Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Barbara, a retired teacher, for months had an on-and-off itchy rash onher breast.She tried treating it with over-the-counter cortisone cream without success.

John, a surfer, had a small lump that appeared on his chest that he thought was a cyst. It was not bothersome until he went to the doctor to have it removed because it kept rubbing on the surfboard while he was lying down.

Both Barbara and John went to the Dermatologist seeking evaluation and treatment of these lesions.

Unfortunately, both Barbara and John got a punch biopsy of the unknown lesions which turned out to be breast cancer.

Susan Hammerling-Hodgers(Photo: TIM SHORTT/FLORIDA TODAY)

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Most of us have had a friend or family member who hasbeen diagnosed, has survived, or passed away from breast cancer.

Breast cancer affects both men and women of all races.

Breast cancer is a disease where abnormal cells grow and can spread throughout the body. There are several types of breast cancer such as Ductal cell carcinoma, Lobular carcinoma, Pagets diseaseand inflammatory breast cancer.

Various signs and symptoms of breast cancer can includethickening or swelling of the breast, a non-healing red flaky rash, nipple dischargeor a new lump.

Certain risk factors for breast cancer include being a woman and aging. Some patients will develop breast cancer without any risk factors. Most women have some risk factors, but most women will not develop breast cancer.

As we age, the risk for developing breast cancer increases. Most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50,

A family history of breast cancer can increase your risk of testing positive for BRCA1 and BRAC2. Or if a patient has a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, this raises the risk.

Looking at an individuals reproductive history also can give clues if there is an increased risk for breast cancer. Specific examples are if menstrual periods occur before the age of 12 or starting menopause after 55 years old.

Unfortunately, having dense breasts can make it difficult to find tumors on a mammogram. For some reason, women with dense breasts or have fibrocystic breasts are more likely to get breast cancer.

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Risk factors that can be changed to decrease the chance of developing breast cancer are discontinuing smoking, become physically active and not being overweight, decrease the amount of alcohol consumption, try to avoid taking hormone replacement therapy or certain birth control pills.

One thing breast cancer has taught me was to think like The little Engine that could,' saidCarol Ellis of Suntree, a breast cancer survivor."I went from 'I think I can'to 'I know I can'beat this cancer.

"Dr. Sharon Norri refused to allow any negative thoughts to enter my mind and always impressed on me that every thing would be fine. I know Im truly blessed to be over four years cancer free and count every day as a gift."

Even though it's rare, men can get breast cancer too. In the United States, almost 1 in 100 breast cancers are found in men.

Diagnosis of breast cancer in men is the same as in women by getting a mammogram or breast ultrasound. After a lesion is found, a breast biopsy can be done to determine what the mass is. Usually a needle biopsy is performed. There are various types of biopsies depending on the situation.

A nipple discharge test can look to see if cancer cells are present.

Almost every family is impacted by this insidious disease, whether it be a mother, sister, aunt or cousin," saidBrevard County Commissioner Curt Smith, who is an ambassador for the American Cancer Society's "Real Men Wear Pink."

"Even men can be affected," he said. "I had a high school buddy that died from breast cancer at age 58. We are asking everyone to make a difference with a donation, no matter how small.Lots of small donations can add up to a large amount."

During your monthly self-examination of the breasts, if you find a rash or lump, make sure to seek medical evaluation and treatment from your healthcare provider.

Do not be afraid to discuss with your provider or get a second opinion. Make sure that you are comfortable with your dermatologist, internal medicine physician or Ob-Gyn and follow up annually by asking them questions on breast cancer.

Susan Hammerling-Hodgers, a Member of the National Psoriasis Foundation, is aPA-C (Certified PhysicianAssistant) andMPAS (Master of Physician Assistant Studies) and works atBrevard Skin and Cancer at the Merritt Island and Rockledge offices.

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Hammerling-Hodgers: Don't delay if you have any signs of breast cancer - Florida Today

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