The healthcare professionals at The Breast Cancer & Women’s Health Institute (BCWHI), at Tyrone Regional Health Network, wish to remind the public that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month is dedicated to increasing public awareness of breast cancer and the importance of early detection of the disease.

Breast cancer is the most common kind of cancer in women after skin cancer. About 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point.

The good news is that most women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early.

Kennita Burns Johnson, D.O., breast cancer surgeon/general surgeon and Medical Director of the Breast Cancer & Women’s Health Institute said “mammography, an x-ray picture of the breast, can detect breast cancer in women before they have signs or symptoms of the disease.”  Most women should start having an annual screening mammogram at age 40.

All women should undergo a risk assessment by a qualified clinician by age 30, as some women need to begin screening prior to age 40 if they have special risk factors.

“It is also helpful for women to perform monthly self breast exams,” said Dr. Burns Johnson. “It helps women to become familiar with their breasts and to notice any changes that may develop.”  Dr. Burns Johnson said women should make their doctor aware of any breast changes noted.

Some warning signs of breast cancer are a lump in the breast or armpit, thickening or swelling of part of the breast, irritation or dimpling of breast skin, redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast, pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area, nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood, changes in the size or the shape of the breast and pain in any area of the breast.

While mammography is currently the best tool doctors have to help with early breast cancer detection, women may be confused by the variety of guidelines published by different organizations regarding when and how often women should have mammograms.

Kelly W. Biggs, MD, Director of Radiology at Tyrone Hospital, is a member of the American College of Radiology Screening Leadership Breast Imaging Group.  “A few medical organizations have issued differing guidelines for when women should start screening mammography, and how often they should screen.  The evidence, however, is clear that the most lives are saved when women of average risk get a yearly mammogram beginning at age 40,” said Dr. Biggs.  “The U.S. Congress agrees.  Congress has placed a moratorium on other guidelines that afford less protection for women.  This is important because it requires insurance companies to cover screening for everyone who may benefit.”

Women age 21 and over in Blair, Clearfield, Centre, Cambria and Huntingdon counties who have no insurance or limited insurance may be eligible for free breast and cervical cancer screening through the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s HealthyWoman Program.  BCWHI is a HealthyWoman program provider.

At BCWHI, women can access the care they need for breast health including physician care as well as screening and diagnostic mammography, breast sonograms and surgical care. Breast diagnostics are performed at Tyrone Hospital where appointments are scheduled promptly and exam results are forwarded to your doctor within 24 to 48 hours.

Dr. Biggs speaks personally with women who are having their first mammogram and with diagnostic mammography patients.

Community members are invited to follow BCWHI on Facebook during the month of October for more information on breast cancer at www.Facebook.com/tyronehospital.

For more information about the services offered through the BCWHI or for information about the free cancer screening program call (814) 684-3101 or visit https://tyroneregionalhealthnetwork.org/the-breast-cancer-institute/

To schedule a mammogram at Tyrone Hospital call the hospital’s radiology department at (814) 684-6385.