By Brandy Gill

CRDAMC Public Affairs

For years women and men have united under a pink-ribboned campaign to fight breast cancer, but despite miles walked, yogurt tabs saved or monetary donations made, about 40,000 people in the United States still die annually from breast cancer.

Many think breast cancer is only a concern for older women who have passed their reproductive years, and, in general, that is true, but breast cancer can strike young women and occasionally men, too.

According to information from the nonprofit organization Susan G. Komen for the Cure, there will be an estimated 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer in 2011.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. Nearly 1.4 million new cases of breast cancer occurred among women worldwide in 2008, the most recent years for which such data is available.

Early detection is key to fighting breast cancer, said Corita Thomas, Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center lead mammography technologist.

"Mammography along with monthly self breast exams and annual

breast exams by a health care provider can help detect breast cancer at an early stage," she said.

"Women should have their first mammogram at age 35 to set a baseline, and they should start having annual screening mammograms starting at age 40. If a patient has a first-degree relative with a history of breast cancer, she should start her screening mammogram 10 years prior to the age her relative was diagnosed."

First-degree relatives are mothers, sisters, or daughters.

Thomas said in most cases the Darnall mammography department can schedule a routine annual mammogram on a same-day basis.

"Active-duty service members, retirees and military dependents are eligible for mammography services at (Darnall) regardless of where they receive primary care or their branch of service," she said. "Anyone with a valid military ID can be screened at our facility as long as they have an order from their primary care provider or civilian physician."

Patients may schedule breast exam without doctor's referral at Darnall

Special to the Hood Herald

The Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, Breast Imaging Center launched a self-referral mammography program in October for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This means a patient may schedule her annual mammogram without an order from a referring physician. Eligible patients can contact the mammography section in the Department of Radiology directly to schedule their mammogram. All Darnall patients with a provider assigned to Darnall Medical Center or one of its clinics will be eligible for self-referral. Only asymptomatic (no problems) patients will be allowed to self-refer. If a woman presents complaints of a new breast lump, nipple discharge, or other suspicious change in her breast, she will be referred to her primary care provider as soon as possible. All women beginning at age 40 for whom breast cancer screening is recommended by national guidelines, will be allowed to self-refer. For questions or more information, please contact the Mammography Section in the Department of Radiology at 288-8332.

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