Doctors continue to stress self-exams for breast cancer

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BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) ––– We are more than halfway through Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and doctors are still emphasizing the importance of early detections. 

Dr. Gerald Miletello with the Hematology and Oncology Clinic at Baton Rouge General says Breast cancer awareness is all about getting people to discover breast cancer earlier, “early detection increases your chances for a cure tremendously.”

It is essential to conduct self-exams and become more familiar with your body so you can notice changes. Dr. Miletello says if you see “thickening of the skin, nipple discharge, other than for milk, redness of the breasts, change in the size of the breasts, or dumpling of the skin,” then you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. 

Dr. Miletello says you should start doing this self-exam once a month as early as your 20’s and then mammograms once a year, typically starting in your 40’s. 

If you do find something unusual, it is entirely normal to feel scared. Dr. Miletello suggests that you bring someone with you to your appointment to act as a support system. He adds that it is not as scary as it may appear, “people don’t die from breast cancer like they used to.” Over his 30 year career, significant improvements in treatment have been made. “We now have people out 15, 20 years with stage four breast cancer who are alive and doing well leading normal lives,” he says. But the key to surviving it is early detection. 

Some factors can make you more susceptible to cancer, “family history is probably one of the most important, which unfortunately you can’t change your family history, diet and obesity is one of the risk factors, and heavy alcohol consumption is another risk factor,” he says. While living a healthy lifestyle cannot guarantee that you will not develop cancer, it can lower your risks. 

For more information on the clinic, you can visit their website here

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