A well-informed patient who knows the facts about breast cancer and keeps up with the latest is one step ahead in the fight against breast cancer. So, check out this quick round up of buzz in the breast cancer world.
Determining your risk for breast cancer
One way to determine whether a woman is at risk for breast cancer is through a risk assessment. A risk assessment is a series of questions about a woman’s habits, her lifestyle, her medical history and the history of breast cancer in her family.
It is recommended that a health care professional perform this assessment routinely with a patient to get a deeper understanding of the patient’s health and to answer any questions that may come up.
Despite health disparities, African-American females are not automatically at high risk for developing breast cancer. However, they are more likely to develop breast cancer than Caucasian women. So, it’s important for women to talk to their family to help decode their own health status.
Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president for Medical External Affairs for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, spoke to theGrio.com via telephone interview about how the annual well woman visits [now covered by the Affordable Care Act] can help African-American women keep track of their risk so they can reduce the risk of developing cancer.
“At Planned Parenthood, we see many women under the age of 40. What we recommend is that they have breast self-awareness education, that a risk assessment be done with a trained clinician, and that a clinical breast exam be done annually after a woman turns 40,” Cullins said.
The risk assessment is not a one-time questionnaire but more like a continuous conversation that should be done with a health care provider to keep track of a woman’s health history. Dr. Cullins suggests that a woman talk with her family and see what changes have occurred and relay those changes to her physician.
“If there’s a change in their medical history or the medical history in the family, they need to go through that assessment again,” she explained. “She would have to notify her clinician if someone in her family develops breast or ovarian cancer.”