Home News A spotlight on breast cancer awareness month

A spotlight on breast cancer awareness month


Dr. Robert Bleicher

Schedule a mammogram at Lower Bucks Hospital

Lower Bucks Hospital, 501 Bath Road in Bristol, is observing October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Lower Bucks wants people to use this month to spread awareness and take the necessary steps to protect themselves.

The hospital believes mammograms save lives, and that getting a mammogram every year is important in finding breast cancer early.

Earlier this year, Lower Bucks announced the addition of 3D mammography to its line of advanced imaging services. This allows for more convenient access to technology proven to detect 41% more invasive breast cancer than traditional mammograms.

“We are proud to offer 3D mammography, which means our community no longer needs to leave the Lower Bucks area to take advantage of this potentially life-saving service,” said Michael D. Mignone, director of medical imaging, physical therapy and patient transport at Lower Bucks.

On average, one out of every 10 women who have a traditional mammogram are called back for repeat exams.

“That’s rarely the case with 3D mammography,” said Dr. Ronak Bhimani, chief medical officer at Lower Bucks. “Our new technology will help us see masses and precancerous cells more clearly, which dramatically reduces the likelihood of false positives and callbacks.”

For the patient, a 3D mammogram is very similar to having a traditional, two-dimensional mammogram. No additional compression is required, it only takes a few seconds longer for each view, and X-ray exposure is only minimally increased when receiving a 3D mammogram. It’s approved for all women undergoing a standard mammogram and is usually covered by insurance.

In addition, Lower Bucks has a team of dedicated mammography technologists and expert radiologists whose goal is to detect breast cancer in its early stages.

“The best protection is early detection and treatment,” Bhimani said.

Schedule an appointment by calling 215-785-9343 or visiting lowerbuckshosp.com/Services/Radiology-and-Imaging.aspx.

Lower Bucks Hospital is part of Prime Healthcare Services, headquartered in Ontario, California. Prime Healthcare is a hospital management company operating 45 acute care hospitals in 14 states, including Roxborough Memorial Hospital in Philadelphia and Suburban Community Hospital in Norristown. ••

Fox Chase Cancer Center holding Facebook event

Fox Chase Cancer Center, 333 Cottman Ave. in Philadelphia, will hold Together Facing Breast Cancer on Tuesday, Oct. 27, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on its Facebook page.

Patients, caregivers, health care professionals, friends and family are welcome, as well as members of the local community, to learn more about breast cancer. The event will feature a panel with Fox Chase physicians and researchers discussing surgical options, genetic testing and clinical trials.

Attendees will be given the opportunity to ask questions through the Facebook Live chat feature, or emailing info@fccc.edu prior to the event.

Register at donate.foxchase.org/site/Calendar?id=101607&view=Detail.

Call 267-547-8978 for more information.

Patients and caregivers will find support and camaraderie at the free virtual educational workshop. The program will feature a panel of Fox Chase clinicians and researchers discussing promising treatments for breast cancer.

In addition, attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions. Patient advocacy groups, industry partners and Fox Chase special services will also participate in the event by providing resources.

Panelists are Dr. Penny Anderson, chief of the Division of Breast and Gynecologic Radiation Oncology; Dr. Richard Bleicher, professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology, leader of the Breast Cancer Program and director of the Breast Fellowship Program; Dr. Meghan Boros, assistant professor in the Department of Diagnostic Imaging; Dr. Elias Obeid, interim chief of the Division of Breast Medical Oncology and assistant professor of the Department of Clinical Genetics; Dr. Andrea Porpiglia, assistant professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology; and Dr. Neal Topham, professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology, Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery.

Registration is not required, but strongly encouraged. Participants who register before Oct. 16 will receive additional resources in the mail to view prior to the event.

A Facebook account is not required to view.

Fox Chase Cancer Center works with patients to choose a treatment approach that offers the best chance of controlling cancer, preserving function and reducing the risk of recurrence.

The multidisciplinary medical team makes individualized decisions for the type and stage of breast cancer. The breast cancer team meets regularly to review new or challenging cases in depth and reach a consensus on treatment strategies.

The goal is thorough and personalized care as well as access to innovative therapies for cancer.

Fox Chase has the highest designation from the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center. It offers care for every type and stage of breast cancer, from detection through survivorship.

Doctors have experience with open, endoscopic, laparoscopic and robotic surgery. Patients have access to clinical trials for emerging and innovative therapies for breast cancer.

To request an appointment, call 888-369-2427 or fill out a form at foxchase.org/request-appointment?ref=Breast%20Cancer.

For more information, go to 

foxchase.org/clinical-care/conditions/breast-cancer. ••

Jefferson Breast Care Center offers treatment

Jefferson University Hospitals has three local locations: Bucks, 380 N. Oxford Valley Road in Langhorne (215-949-5000); Frankford, 4900 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia (215-831-2000); and Torresdale, Red Lion and Knights roads, Philadelphia (215-612-4000).

The Jefferson Breast Care Center offers breast cancer care for men and women, from risk assessment, breast screening and diagnosis, to treatment and follow-up care.

Its team of physicians, oncologists, surgeons, plastic surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists and radiologists provides treatment for all types and stages of breast cancer, including early and advanced stage breast cancer, metastatic breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer, breast cancer during pregnancy, breast cancer in young women, triple negative breast cancer, breast cancer in men and rare breast tumors.

The support team, including nurse practitioners, oncology nurses, social workers, therapists and techs, helps deliver personalized and coordinated breast care.

The Jefferson Breast Care Program and Center is one of the first 30 centers in the country to be accredited by the National Accreditation Program of Breast Centers.

Call 215-503-2346 or 800-JEFF NOW (533-3369) if you are newly diagnosed with breast cancer and would like an appointment with a specialist.

To learn more about extended breast imaging hours, genetic counseling and risk assessments, go to hospitals.jefferson.edu/departments-and-services/breast-care-center/appointment.html. ••

Care offered at Nazareth and St. Mary

Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic is comprised of, among others, Nazareth Hospital and St. Mary Medical Center.

Care is available at the following locations:

  • Nazareth Breast Surgery, 2701 Holme Ave., Suite 305, Philadelphia (215-333-4894)
  • St. Mary Complete Breast Care, 1205 Langhorne-Newtown Road, Franciscan Building, Suite 304, Langhorne (215-710-4130)
  • Nazareth Health Red Lion Road and St. Mary Ob/Gyn, 9922 Roosevelt Blvd., Philadelphia (215-333-4894)
  • St. Mary Ob/Gyn, 4595 New Falls Road, Levittown (215-322-5042)
  • Penn Gynecologic Oncology, 1203 Langhorne-Newtown Road, Suite 226, Langhorne (215-360-0989)

Breast health services are offered in a setting that is welcoming and reassuring. A multidisciplinary team of experts — including board-certified radiologists, imaging technologists, cancer care specialists, surgeons and navigators — will be with patients every step of their journey.

Services include the newest breast imaging technology, advanced diagnostic testing, leading-edge treatments and human kindness.

Trinity Health advises that not all lumps, masses or other abnormal breast findings turn out to be cancer. However, in some cases, benign breast conditions and diseases may increase the chances of developing breast cancer later on in life.

Consult your physician if you notice changes and/or experience pain in your breasts. Depending on your condition, surgical services may be needed during the course of your treatment.

Not only does a breast cancer diagnosis impact your physical health, but absorbing the information and navigating through what can be a complex treatment process can take a toll on your mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Detailed images provide Trinity Health physicians with the information they need to help determine if there are concerns that need additional testing. Diagnostic tools then empower physicians to explore those symptoms and concerns to create a customized care plan, if needed.

About one in every eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. If breast cancer is detected early — before cancerous cells have spread to other parts of the body — there is a higher likelihood it will be successfully treated and often cured.

According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for women with breast cancer is 98 percent with early detection. ••

CTCA offers details on breast cancer

Cancer Treatment Centers of America, 1331 E. Wyoming Ave. in Philadelphia, accepts phone calls 24 hours a day at 844-970-2446.

More information can be found at cancercenter.com/locations/philadelphia.

CTCA describes breast cancer as the most common non-skin cancer among American women. An estimated 279,100 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the United States in 2020, according to the American Cancer Society.

Breast cancer accounts for 15 percent of all new cancer diagnoses and 7 percent of all cancer deaths each year.

What causes breast cancer?

Breasts are made of a variety of different tissues, including ducts, lobes and lobules and glands that produce milk and carry it to the nipple. The breasts also contain lymph nodes and fatty tissue.

Cancer develops when cells in the breast mutate and grow out of control, forming a tumor. Most breast cancers — about 80 percent — are ductal carcinomas, which begin in milk ducts.

About 10 percent of all breast cancers are lobular carcinomas, which develop in the lobes or glands that produce milk.

Other factors that may increase a woman’s risk for developing breast cancer include obesity, breast density, menstrual history, a sedentary lifestyle, heavy drinking and previous medical treatments.

Who gets breast cancer?

The risk for developing breast cancer increases with age. According to the National Cancer Institute, the average age of a woman diagnosed with breast cancer is 62.

The average age of a woman who dies from breast cancer is 68. Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women ages 55 to 64.

About 10 percent of breast cancers occur in women younger than 45. Women with a family history of breast cancer may be at a higher risk for developing the disease.

For example, women whose mother, sister or daughter has or had breast cancer may have double the risk. Women who have inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene are at higher risk.

Breast cancer also occurs in men, but is very rare. About 2,670 American men learned they had breast cancer in 2019, the American Cancer Society estimated. Male breast cancer accounts for 1 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses.

There are many types and subtypes of breast cancer, but most are adenocarcinomas of the breast. Adenocarcinoma tumors are found in many common cancers, including prostate, lung and colorectal.

These types of tumors form in glands or ducts that secrete fluid. Breast adenocarcinomas form in milk ducts or milk-producing glands called lobules.

Each type of breast cancer may be determined based on where in the breast it develops, whether it is considered invasive or non-invasive and whether it is driven by hormones or proteins.

Subtypes of breast cancer include those driven by specific hormones, such as estrogen, progestogen or the protein HER2. Sixty percent of breast cancers are estrogen-positive. Twenty percent of breast cancers are HER2-positive. Another 20 percent are triple-negative breast cancers, a type of breast cancer that tests negative for estrogen, progesterone and HER2.

Triple-negative breast cancer is among the more aggressive forms of the disease.

Breast cancer cells can spread into the lymph nodes in and around the breasts and, from there, travel and form tumors in distant parts of the body.

When that occurs, it is called metastatic breast cancer. When it spreads, breast cancer is most often found in the brain, bones, liver and lungs. It is still considered breast cancer even if it is found on other parts of the body.

A lump, mass and change in the feel or position of the breast are among the most common symptoms of breast cancer. Other symptoms include swelling, redness or inflammation; changes in the nipple; nipple discharge; pain in the breast; itchy or irritated breasts; changes in color; and peeling or flaky skin.

Tools and tests used to diagnose breast cancer include lab tests, including advanced genomic testing; biopsy; and imaging tests, including ultrasound and mammography.

Different tests are used to determine whether the breast cancer has metastasized. These tests include radiofrequency ablation; endobronchial ultrasound; and bone scan.

Surgery is a common treatment option for breast cancer. Other treatment options include chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy. ••

Trump recognizes Breast Cancer Awareness Month

President Donald Trump issued the following proclamation on Oct. 1:

During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we honor the incredible fortitude of breast cancer survivors and offer our heartfelt support and prayers to those currently battling this disease. As one Nation, we remember the precious lives lost to breast cancer and the families forever changed as a result. This month, we devote ourselves to fighting to eradicate breast cancer, working with conviction and compassion to develop treatments and find a cure.

This year, an estimated 276,000 Americans will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 42,000 will likely die from this terrible disease. Thankfully, through early detection and improved treatments, today there is a 90 percent five-year survival rate for women diagnosed with breast cancer. The First Lady and I strongly encourage all Americans to meet with their physicians and discuss their individual risks for breast cancer. Increased awareness, especially of family history and other common risk factors, preventive care, and regular screenings, including mammograms, can help save lives through early diagnosis and prompt treatment.

As President, I am deeply committed to ensuring that Americans have access to cutting-edge treatments and life-saving medications for conditions like breast cancer. In 2018, I signed into law historic “Right to Try” legislation, which ensures those diagnosed with a terminal illness greater autonomy in choosing their treatment path and increases their access to potentially lifesaving drugs. My Administration also has taken decisive action to lower prescription drug prices and eliminate burdensome regulations that, for too long, undercut the potential of our researchers to develop innovative treatments and medications. We are also relentlessly committed to protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions, including conditions that may put someone at a greater risk of developing breast cancer. In the fight against this disease, we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to provide Americans with the best possible treatments and medications to save lives.

This month, as we celebrate the incredible resilience of breast cancer survivors and remember those lost to this disease, we also pray for comfort and strength for those currently battling breast cancer. Together, united by compassion and resolve, we will continue in our effort to find new treatments, medications, and a cure to eradicate this disease from our Nation.

Now, therefore, I, Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2020 as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Citizens, government agencies, private businesses, nonprofit organizations, the media, and other interested groups must increase awareness of what we can do to fight breast cancer. I also invite the Governors of the States and Territories and officials of other areas subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to join me in recognizing National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

  Donald J. Trump ••

New state law strengthens screenings

Gov. Tom Wolf recently signed breast cancer screening legislation for women across the state.

Senate Bill 595, sponsored by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24th dist.), requires insurers to cover breast MRIs and ultrasounds for women with very dense breasts and other high-risk factors for breast cancer.

“This is a great victory for the women of Pennsylvania and the families that love them. We salute Gov. Tom Wolf for signing SB 595, legislation we know will save women’s lives or greatly improve women’s lives by providing affordable access to the early detection of breast cancer,” said PBCC president and founder Pat Halpin-Murphy. “We are now on the forefront of states across the country requiring insurers to cover breast MRIs and ultrasounds that women need. Thank you, chief sponsor Sen. Bob Mensch, for your dedication to this bill and thank you, Gov. Wolf, for taking this historic action.”

For women with very dense breasts and/or other high-risk factors, a mammogram may not be enough to detect a lump or irregularity in the breast. Breast MRIs and ultrasounds are often necessary to provide accuracy, but some insurers did not cover those screenings.

Senate Bill 595 requires insurance coverage of MRIs and ultrasounds for women with extremely dense breast tissue; high risk factors for breast cancer such as a personal history of breast cancer, a family history of breast cancer or a genetic predisposition; and heterogeneously dense breast tissue and one other high-risk factor.

“Medical advancements have brought greater peace of mind to many women suffering from breast cancer,” Mensch said. “Over the years, insurance coverages have been working to keep pace with these advancements to ensure the best possible outcomes for breast cancer victims. Senate Bill 595 brings the medical community and the insurance community even closer together to provide better coverage, and to hopefully provide greater health, comfort and peace of mind to those suffering with this disease. Solutions are within our grasp, and Senate Bill 595 makes these potentials an even greater reality.”

Under the law, the patient may be responsible for normal costs such as co-pays, co-insurance and/or deductibles based on the individual’s health insurance policy. The new law applies only to insurance companies that issue policies covered under Pennsylvania law.

Implementation dates vary depending upon the patient’s particular insurance plan. ••

Komen distributes grants

Susan G. Komen Philadelphia, a leader in saving lives and working toward an end to breast cancer, recently announced its community grants program is awarding another $199,900 to eight area hospitals and health organizations to advance breast cancer initiatives specifically targeting medically underserved, uninsured and/or low-income populations.

Among the recipients were Fox Chase Cancer Center: Mammograms Made Easy; University of Pennsylvania Hospital Department of Surgery (Penn Medicine): Breast Health Initiative; Philadelphia Department of Public Health: Philadelphia Department of Public Health Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnostic Exams Project; and the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson: Jefferson’s Breast Cancer Screening and Treatment Program.

Komen Philadelphia’s total community grants distribution has been more than $63.5 million in its 15-county service area. This is in addition to the approximate 184,500 free mammograms the organization has funded and the approximate $28 million in breast cancer research funding it has contributed over three decades.

“Our grantees are our boots on the ground, our mission in action every day,” said Elaine I. Grobman, CEO, Komen Philadelphia. “They are out there 24/7 to make sure that women in need aren’t only aware of the critical importance of early detection and know that free screening, treatment and support services are available, but that they do access those services. I’ve known grantees to literally take a woman by the hand, bring her in for a mammogram and stay with her through every stage of care. This level of devotion, together with our ability to fund our grantees’ work and every service required to successfully screen, diagnose and treat all individuals in need, is critical to lowering breast cancer mortality rates in our neighborhoods. And we depend greatly on our supporters to help make this happen. Komen Philadelphia will not stop in our efforts to increase funding and grow our community grants program until, ultimately, we can ensure every life threatened by breast cancer survives breast cancer.”

In total, the programs funded by 2020-2021 Komen Philadelphia grants are expected to accomplish the following:

  • Screening mammograms: 768
  • Clinical and diagnostic services: 330
  • Community and patient navigation services: 349
  • Interpretation/translation services: 123
  • Treatment services: 30
  • Temporary gap funding/financial assistance: 142
  • Education and outreach contacts: 1,850

A major contributor to grants funding is the Susan G. Komen Philadelphia MORE THAN PINK Walk, which was held virtually on June 28.

Traditionally, it is held every Mother’s Day.

Komen Philadelphia’s service area consists of Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Philadelphia and York counties in Pennsylvania; Camden County, New Jersey; and Kent, New Castle and Sussex counties in Delaware.

The breast cancer mortality rate in Komen Philadelphia’s service area is 9 percent higher than the national average. ••

Ways to lower risk of breast cancer

The American Cancer Society said that, although there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, there are several things people can do that may lower their likelihood of getting it.

Here are five ways to help protect your breast health:

  • Get to and stay at a healthy weight. 

Being overweight or obese increases breast cancer risk, especially after menopause. Gaining weight as an adult adds to your risk. After menopause, most of your estrogen comes from fat tissue. Having more fat tissue increases the amount of estrogen your body makes, raising your risk of breast cancer. Also, women who are overweight tend to have higher levels of insulin. Higher insulin levels have also been linked to breast cancer. If you’re already at a healthy weight, stay there. If you’re carrying extra pounds, try to lose some. There’s some evidence that losing weight may lower breast cancer risk. Losing even a small amount of weight can also have other health benefits and is a good place to start.

  • Be physically active and avoid time spent sitting. 

Many studies have found that regular physical activity reduces breast cancer risk . 

Recent updates to the American Cancer Society Guideline for Diet and Physical Activity recommend getting at least 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week. Getting to or exceeding 300 minutes is ideal. In addition, you should limit sedentary behavior such as sitting, lying down, watching TV and other forms of screen-based entertainment. This is especially important if you spend most of your working day sitting.

  • Follow a healthy eating pattern.

A healthy eating pattern includes a variety of vegetables, fiber-rich legumes (beans and peas), fruits in a variety of colors and whole grains. It is best to avoid or limit red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, highly processed foods and refined grain products. This will provide you with key nutrients in amounts that help you get to and stay at a healthy weight.

  • It is best not to drink alcohol.

Research has shown that drinking any alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer. If you choose to drink alcohol, the American Cancer Society recommends that women have no more than one alcohol drink on any given day. A drink is 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.

  • Think carefully about using hormone replacement therapy.

Studies show that HRT, using a combination of estrogen and progestin, increases the risk of breast cancer. This combination can also lead to increased breast density, making it harder to find breast cancer on a mammogram. The good news is that within three years of stopping the hormones, the risk returns to that of a woman who has not used HRT. For women who have had a hysterectomy, taking HRT that includes only estrogen may be a better option. Estrogen alone does not increase breast cancer risk. However, women who still have a uterus are at increased risk of endometrial cancer from estrogen-only HRT. Talk with your doctor about all the options to control your menopause symptoms, including the risks and benefits of each. If you decide to try HRT, it is best to use it at the lowest dose that works for you and for as short a time as possible. ••

NBCF raising money all October

The National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc.’s Game Pink, its video game-focused fundraising initiative that aims to activate the gaming community to raise awareness and help women and families impacted by breast cancer, runs throughout October. It is partnering with some of the biggest names in gaming along with developers and brands for Game Pink Live.

Hosted by gaming industry veteran Geoff Keighley, Game Pink Live will feature interviews and gameplay.

“I’m excited by the opportunity to join Game Pink and the game industry in coming together to help the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s efforts to support women and say game over to breast cancer,” Keighley said.

NBCF is partnering with Xbox to be the official console sponsor for Game Pink Live, which will stream from the official Xbox channels and will offer digital content or limited-edition items from Xbox Game Studios titles Sea of Thieves, Halo and Grounded, as well as Cuphead from Studio MDHR, to help raise funds for patients in need.

In the current COVID climate, NBCF said, support is needed now more than ever, as more patients face challenges in getting treatment and flexible access to services.

“There has been a lot of concern this year with everything shutting down to COVID-19 and we unfortunately may see a surge in later-stage diagnoses next year due to people putting exams on hold,” said Kevin Hail, president and chief operating officer of NBCF. “We’ve had a lot of success with our Game Pink event in the past and now, by expanding our activities, it’s our goal to quadruple past donations and educate the gaming community to help more people and families.”

Knowing that 46% of gamers in the U.S. are female, Game Pink is asking gamers to share their stories of how breast cancer has affected them or someone they know to create a gaming support community. Gamers can enter their stories at gamepink.com or on social media at @NBCF, using #GamePink.

“One of the many things I love about the gaming industry is the charitable efforts its community continues to support,” said Chris Erb, CEO of Tripleclix, NBCF’s Gaming Agency.

National Breast Cancer Foundation provides early detection, education and support services to those affected by breast cancer. A recipient of Charity Navigator’s highest 4-star rating for 14 years, NBCF provides support through its National Mammography Program, Patient Navigation, breast health education and patient support programs.

For more information, visit nationalbreastcancer.org/. ••

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