According to the American Cancer Society, Louisiana has one of the highest cancer mortality rates in the nation. We do not have a higher incidence of most cancers; instead, we have higher death rates. This is due to lack of access to care, delayed diagnosis and treatment, limited educational awareness and low utilization of preventative services. Screening tests can help find cancer at an early stage, before symptoms appear. The earlier abnormal tissue or cancer is discovered, the more options there are for successful treatment. Learn more about breast cancer below.
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Women should get a clinical breast exam at least every three years, starting in their 20s, and get an annual exam and mammogram starting at 40. Breast self-exam is an option beginning at age 20. See a doctor about any breast changes.
Some risk factors for breast cancer are not preventable, such as getting older, personal or family history of breast cancer or some non-cancerous breast diseases, while some risk factors can be associated with lifestyle choices. Not being physically active, being overweight or obese after menopause or drinking alcohol can increase your risk. If you have questions about potential risk factors in your life, talk with your doctor.
Possible symptoms of breast cancer may include swelling of all or part of the breast, breast or nipple pain or the nipple turning inward, or a lump in the underarm area. Skin irritation or dimpling, redness, scaliness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin, or nipple discharge other than breast milk are other possible signs. Please consult with your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
Gamma Knife Icon (GKI) is an innovative, noninvasive radiosurgery technology used for treating metastatic breast cancer when tumors have spread to the brain. The first of its kind in the Gulf South, GKI treats only the parts of the brain that need it, sparing healthy tissue and enhancing the quality of life. There are no incisions with this treatment and, in most cases, little to no side effects. To learn more about the Gamma Knife Icon, click here.
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center provides genetic counseling and testing services for people who have an increased risk for hereditary cancer. Based on your risk assessment, we can assist you in making informed medical decisions.
Women with family history of breast cancer should consult primary care physician for a risk assessment and referral into the program.
“Going into it before I even started treatment, there was a game plan,” Courtney said. “I never experienced a medical team that became like family and supported you in such a tough time,” she said. “They were real people who cared.”
At the Woman’s Cancer Pavilion in Baton Rouge, a unique facility dedicated solely to treating women with breast and gynecologic cancer, Mary Bird Perkins, Our Lady of the Lake and Woman’s Hospital are working side-by-side. With the most experienced doctors and teams, surgical procedures, breakthrough treatments and national clinical trials, we provide everything needed for your care and life beyond your diagnosis.
Women in the Bayou Region have access to exceptional and compassionate care at Terrebonne General Health System Women’s Imaging and Breast Center, where our focus is on the comfort and overall wellness of the patient. The center offers bone densitometry scans, digital mammography, core breast biopsies, Breast Specific Gamma Imaging (BSGI), breast needle localizations, ultrasound and an array of mammography and other breast imaging techniques.