Breast cancer is the most common cancer occurring among women and accounts for about 30% of all cancers diagnosed in women.
Good news can be found in recent breast cancer statistics. The mortality rate from breast cancer has decreased substantially over the last decade at a rate of roughly 1.8% per year. We are getting better at both diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Our understanding of breast cancer and the technology used to diagnose and treat the disease improves every year, but that diagnostic ability depends on our patients taking advantage of the opportunity.
Mammography remains the gold standard for screening purposes, although MRI screening is often used in high-risk patients. 3D mammography has significantly decreased the risk of being recalled for a repeat film. Because the sensitivity of our screening tests has improved dramatically, we are diagnosing breast cancer much earlier, giving our patients more options for treatment.
There has been recent controversy concerning the recommended age at which to begin mammograms and the frequency at which they should be done. There is no correct answer. Your decision to begin mammogram screening depends on your family history, personal medical history, current medications, surgical history, and body habitus (BMI). These factors influence your personal risk of developing breast cancer and are must be considered by your gynecologist before recommending a screening regimen.
Studies show that the physician remains the catalyst for most patients to undergo regular breast screening. When the physician actively promotes breast cancer screening, risk assessment, and prevention, patients are more likely to follow through. The rewards are great when a small curable cancer is detected and treated early.
Dr. Johns was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998. He underwent a mastectomy followed by 6 months of chemotherapy. His experience as a male gynecologist being treated for a distinctly female disease was life-changing. He is committed to making certain his patients have their screening tests done at appropriate intervals (considering their individual risk factors) at a state-of-the-art facility staffed by subspecialty-trained breast radiologists. If a patient is found to have breast cancer, he makes certain she is referred to the appropriate specialists for her diagnosis. They are also scheduled with a navigator from the Joan Katz Breast Center who will aid them throughout their journey with the disease.
You can read more about Dr. Johns’ journey with his own breast cancer in his memoir “The Lump”