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'The point of breast cancer screening is to catch it before there's a lump'

18 October 2020 10:38 AM
Tags:
Cancer
Breast cancer
breast cancer screening
mammogram
early cancer detection

Don't wait until you have symptoms to go for a breast cancer exam, says Dr. Dominique Stott.

Dr. Stott, the chief medical officer at insurance group Liberty, has urged women to undergo breast cancer screening.

She explains that breast cancer screening is the process of checking a woman’s breasts for cancer before there are signs or symptoms of the disease.

She says the point of screening is to detect breast cancer long before the tumor can be felt by you or your doctor.

Doctors often use a mammogram to look for early signs of breast cancer, which involves taking an X-ray picture of the breast.

When a lump has been detected, the chances are that it [cancer] may well have spread by then. Once it has gone into lymph nodes or distant parts of the body, then the prognosis is that much poorer. You've got to catch it before then. That's the whole point of screening.

Dr. Dominique Stott, Chief medical officer - Liberty

Screening testing is affecting people who do not have the problem yet... The screening philosophy is that you're trying to detect it in an asymptomatic population.

Dr. Dominique Stott, Chief medical officer - Liberty

Catching breast cancer early can lead to a very positive outcome, Dr. Stott tells CapeTalk host Zain Johnson.

She's emphasised the importance of early detection, especially among high-risk women.

RELATED: I found a lump and my worst fears came to life: Danielle Bitton shares her story

Women are at a higher risk of breast cancer based on their family history and whether or not they carry the BRCA gene which is linked to the disease.

Dr. Stott says that women should talk to their doctor about having a mammogram from the age of 40.

It's recommended that women between 45 and 54 should have a mammogram annually, while women over 55 should have it every two years.

RELATED: I fought breast cancer while pregnant with twins: This is Jade Wyngaardt's story

Although screening usually involves examining asymptomatic patients, Dr Stott says all women (and men) should look out for the following symptoms:

  • a lump in the breast or in the armpit area
  • very dense breast tissue
  • skin changes on the breast, such as dimpling or irritation
  • nipple discharge
  • pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area

Breast cancer screening is actually quite complex. Mammograms require you to be face-to-face with a radiographer and a radiologist.

Dr. Dominique Stott, Chief medical officer - Liberty

If a woman has either got the BRCA gene or she's got more than two first-line family members who have had breast cancer... she's high risk.

Dr. Dominique Stott, Chief medical officer - Liberty

Dr Stott says that a woman's age, reproductive history, and diet are also factors that contribute to the possible development of breast cancer.

Dr Dominique Stott, Liberty's chief medical officer,

Listen to the discussion on Weekend Breakfast:


18 October 2020 10:38 AM
Tags:
Cancer
Breast cancer
breast cancer screening
mammogram
early cancer detection

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