A breast cancer message for men and women

Rayma Scalzo

Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I want to take this opportunity to remind you to make sure you get your mammogram every one to two years. I might also say that my breast cancer, as well as others in our Breast Cancer Discussion Group, did not show up on a mammogram. Therefore, it is very important to do self exams and have your doctor do a physical exam at least once a year.

A breast cancer diagnosis today is different than it was years ago. At that time, it was thought of as a death sentence but significant progress has been made in the fight against breast cancer. Today, there are many treatments that are very successful and less invasive than in the past. The main thing is to get it diagnosed early and then go from there.

So often I hear friends say, “I don’t have to have a mammogram because I have no family history of the disease.” It is true that if your mother, sister or daughter had breast cancer there is an increased risk of you having it. An estimated number of hereditary breast cancers, however, account for only five to ten percent of breast cancers.

I recently received a request to address breast cancer in men. Yes, they get breast cancer, too! Although it is rare, the lifetime risk of men getting breast cancer is 1 in 1,000. Breast cancer screening is only recommended for some men at higher risk due to an inherited gene mutation or a strong family history. Men should also be aware of warning signs including: lump, hard knot or thickening in the breast, dimpling, puckering or redness of the skin, itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple, pulling in of the nipple (inverted nipple) or other parts of the breast and, last but not least, a nipple discharge. Please note that these symptoms may also be signs of a benign (non-cancer) breast condition.

Our next meeting will not be until Thursday, November 8. We changed it from the fourth Thursday in October in order to have Dr. Rich Shildt, Oncologist, attend our meeting. We welcome newly diagnosed residents as well as long time survivors and we encourage spouses or significant others to attend our meetings. Following the meeting, many of us go to lunch at Toscana’s and get to know each other better. We have a fun group and do a lot of laughing as laughter is an important part of healing.

If you want to find out more about the group, please call 623-935-1819 or email me at raymas@cox.net.

A special gift for you! I particularly want to hear from residents who are newly diagnosed as I would like to give you a wonderful pillow that will give you comfort following surgery. The PebbleCreek Quilter’s Club generously provides these to us.