- Special Sections
- Public Notices
BOX Screening guidelines for the early detection of breast cancer from the American Cancer Society
By BECCA OWSLEY email@example.com HARDIN COUNTY — With celebrities such as Christina Applegate and Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts putting a public face on breast cancer, awareness of the illness has stayed in the public eye. According to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, an estimated 182,460 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in American women in 2008. The American Cancer Society reports 26 percent of the 692,000 cancers that will be reported this year will be breast cancer and 15 percent of the 271,530 cancer deaths this year will be a result of breast cancer. October is breast cancer awareness month, and many survivors in the area are sharing their stories to help others get through the process. Karen Hawkins, 49, and Mardee Hoggard, 67, have an unbreakable bond in their sisterhood of cancer survival. Hawkins is a five-year survivor. When she found out about her cancer she wanted to talk to someone who had been through it before. She found out Hoggard, her neighbor, had been a survivor since 1999 and they quickly became friends. They both stressed how important it is to be surrounded by positive people and those who are full of humor. Hawkins had no history of breast cancer in her family and no other warning signs that pointed to the cancer before she was diagnosed. It was just a speck on the mammogram that caused the doctor to be concerned. She is the first in her family to have it and vows she will be the last. She advises people to get their mammograms and do self exams stressing the mammogram is what found her cancer. Knowing someone else who has gone though it also helps because everything is new and it is an encouragement to know what to expect and have someone help you through it. Her faith is what got her through and what she credits for her good recovery. “It was the hardest time of my life that I’ve ever been through but it’s the best time in my life,” Hawkins said. “It drew me closer to the Lord and to where I am now.” Hoggard agreed, reflecting on her time with cancer as a refinement. She said women need to be informed and research breast cancer when they are told they have it so they will know what to expect during the process. Knowledge of what is to come takes some of the fear out of the situation. “I have several people who are testimonies to me because they have gone through more than I’ve even thought about,” Hoggard said. “Like I said, it’s a sisterhood, a breast cancer sisterhood, and it’s wonderful.” Hoggard said. “The ones you get to know who have gone through it are just so special because you know you’ve gone through something together — at different times together but still together." Dr. Cynthia Hart, medical director of the Women's Imaging Center, has suggestions for women fighting breast cancer. In Hart’s experience, the two main things people get nervous about when having a mammogram are radiation and discomfort. “I don’t think there has ever been a documented case of anyone developing a cancer because of the radiation exposure they get because of the mammogram,” Hart said. Those with a family history of breast cancer should consider beginning mammograms 10 years earlier than the age of the affected family member when she was diagnosed. For example, if the mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at 45, the daughter should have her first mammogram at 35, Hart said. While breast cancer typically affects older women, it can be even more harmful to younger women because their breast tissue is more dense. Because breast cancer is hormone dependent, it can be more aggressive in those still having menstrual cycles, Hart said. Older patients get breast cancer that is less hormone dependent which is more treatable. In either case, early detection is key. “There is a 95 to 98 percent cure rate if (the cancer is) detected in the small stages," Hart said. "But if the cancer is not detected until the patient actually feels it themselves, it significantly decreases their survival rate. We are trying to detect (cancer) at minuscule levels.” Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741..