SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Every two minutes, a woman in the U.S. is diagnosed with breast cancer. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and health professionals are urging people to know the signs and symptoms of the disease.
Veronica Martinez, who is a Breast Cancer Oncology Nurse Navigator with Sarasota Memorial Hospital, said there are usually no symptoms for the early stages of breast cancer. Because of this, she said it’s important for people to do yearly checkups.
Martinez said women over the age of 40 should get yearly mammograms and women between the ages of 25 and 30 should get regular clinical breast exams by their doctor.
Along with the yearly exam, people should go to the doctor if they notice any changes to their breast. That includes changing in size, pain that's not going away, lumps, dimpling, rashes, discharge, changes in the nipple, or hardening of the skin.
When the cancer is found early, there's a better chance that a person can save their breast and still live a good quality of life.
“The earlier that we find them, the more treatable those cancers are. When breast cancer is confined to just the breasts, there’s like a 99% survival rate at 5 years,” Martinez said.
Men are also at risk for breast cancer. About 2,600 men this year in the U.S. will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. There’s still research being done into what causes men to get breast cancer, but Martinez said a lot of times it’s because the man is carrying a hereditary mutation.
Men often have the same symptoms as women and are treated for the disease in a similar way as well. Martinez said there has been advancements in treatments for breast cancer to make them more effective for each individual patient.
“We have gotten really good at treating it based on the biology of the cancer. So the care for each person is going to be personalized to their particular breast cancer. And we have made a lot of big strides with targeted therapies that address specific kinds of breast cancers and has really improved the mortality rates,” said Martinez.
Along with treatment advancements, experts say early detection and increased awareness has also increased the survival rates for this disease.