I have long said that the statistic that reports one in eight women will get breast cancer is an underestimation. Surely it's at least one in five. I finally have support for my hypothesis that cancer afflicts more than one in eight women. Dr. Heather Kaneda, a radiologist at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center (LNRMC), reported that the one in eight statistic only includes those diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. That cancer designation means that the tumor breached the milk duct in the breast. There are many more patients that are diagnosed with non-invasive breast cancer, which means the tumor is contained within the duct. A non-invasive tumor can be staged as a zero, but it is still malignant. It is my opinion that women in this latter category should be included in the reported prevalence of breast cancer.
Another issue that I have campaigned for in spite of the current recommendation is that people still need to do their breast self-exams (BSE). The reason that the monthly BSE is no longer encouraged was explained by Dr. Michelle Bertch, a breast surgeon at LNRMC. The American Cancer Society dropped their campaign for the BSE because women and teenagers were getting anxious and fearful about every lump they felt, which led to an increase in unnecessary testing. It is my opinion that fear can be reduced with adequate education on breast health. For example, if a mass is found in one breast, the other breast should be checked for a mass in the same position. If there is a match, it is unlikely that either mass is a malignant tumor. When I found the lump in my own breast, I knew to get it checked because there was no match in my other breast. Many women have "lumpy" breasts, and the size of the lumps may feel larger closer to menstruation. Therefore, a BSE should be performed one week after a period. If girls were taught these things as early as their high school years, it is likely that fear and unnecessary testing would decrease significantly.