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Another View: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I was recently watching Good Morning America on television, when co-anchor Amy Robach interviewed Dr. Kristi Funk, a board-certified breast surgeon from California and medical director of PinkLotus.com on the new discoveries in treating breast cancer.

Funk discussed the FDA’s approval of Keytruda, an immunotherapy drug for use in early-stage triple-negative breast cancer.

“This is the most aggressive sub type we have to treat,” Funk said. “It occurs in young women and black women.”

Funk said during a three-year trial of 1,200 women with stage 2 and 3 breast cancer who received chemotherapy, Keytruda and surgery, and then nine more cycles of Keytruda, they saw a 37 percent drop in breast cancer events, noticeably fatal stage 4 events in the Keytruda group.

According to the Susan G. Komen website, most women diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease.

“About 13 percent to 16 percent of women diagnosed have a first-degree female relative (mother, sister or daughter) with breast cancer.

“A woman who has a first-degree female relative with breast cancer has about twice the risk of a woman without this family history.

“If she has more than one first-degree female relative with a history of breast cancer, her risk is about two- to four times higher,” the website states.

The American Cancer Society states, “Regular mammograms can help find breast cancer at an early stage when treatment is most successful. A mammogram can often find breast changes that could be cancer years before physical symptoms develop.

“Results from many decades of research clearly show that women who have regular mammograms are more likely to have breast cancer found early, are less likely to need aggressive treatment like surgery to remove the breast (mastectomy) and chemotherapy and are more likely to be cured.”

The American Cancer Society recommends women 40-44 should consider starting to have annual breast cancer mammogram screenings.

They also recommend women ages 45 to 54 receive yearly mammograms, and women ages 55 and older can continue to have annual mammogram screenings or switch to having screenings every two years.

Coming from a family with a history of breast cancer, I know mammograms save lives.

In 1997, during a yearly routine mammogram, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 69.

If she had not received a yearly mammogram, she would not have lived another 18 years.

If I had not started having yearly mammograms when I was younger, doctors might not have discovered the beginning stages of a mass when I was 49.

Husbands, sons and boyfriends, encourage the women and men in your lives to have yearly mammograms.

Yes, men get breast cancer, too.

Susan Bryant

editorial assistant

Parkland Press

Northwestern Press