October is Women’s Health Month at Cameron Hospital
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month across the country. At Cameron Hospital, October is also Women’s Health Month, a time when we focus on all aspects of women’s health.
One of the most important aspects of women’s health is breast health. Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in women in the United States behind skin cancer. Breastcancer.org estimates that more than 276,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed this year.
Breast cancer is treatable especially when detected early. That’s one of the reasons why we wanted to shed the light on breast cancer screenings this month. We discussed the importance of breast cancer screenings and self-exams with the Cameron OB-GYN team of Dr. Todd Rumsey, Chief Medical Officer for Cameron Hospital, and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and Certified Nurse Midwife, Bobbi Brown.
Know Your Risk
Breast cancer is a leading cancer among women in the US. However, there are certain risk factors that make it more likely for certain women. According to Dr. Rumsey, one of the first things you should do is recognize your individual risk for developing breast cancer.
“Women should know what the general risk factors of breast cancer are and what their own risks are.” Some are well-known, such as family history. However, some may not be as obvious. For example, Dr. Rumsey pointed out that women who have never had a child are at an increased risk for developing breast cancer as are women with a long-time span between their first period and their first baby.
Bobbi adds that breast feeding helps lower the risk of developing breast cancer. She says that each child you breastfeed continues to lower the risk. However, while the length of time spent breastfeeding does help, doing it at all helps. As Dr. Rumsey says, “Ever breast feeders have a lower risk than never breast feeders.”
Annual breast screening exams, mammograms, are recommended for women beginning at age 40. That age may be earlier if there is a history of breast cancer in your family.
“Breast cancer screenings are the only chance we have to reliably detect early breast cancer,” says Dr. Rumsey. “Mammograms are so important because they are the only way to find breast cancer when it is subclinical, or before you can physically feel it.”
Because of the importance of breast cancer screenings, Cameron Hospital proudly takes part in a program to offer screening for those who are uninsured or underinsured.
Cameron Hospital Breast Health Program
Cameron Hospital, in conjunction with the Indiana Breast Cancer Awareness Trust, offers an exclusive Breast Health Program. Designed for women who are uninsured or underinsured, this program provides high-tech breast imaging service at the Women’s Center of Cameron Hospital.
Featuring advanced diagnostic equipment, the Women’s Health Center is designed specifically to provide the utmost in comfort and privacy. Available services through Cameron’s Breast Health Program at the Women’s Health Center include:
- Breast screenings and diagnostic mammograms
- High-tech 3D imaging
- Breast ultrasound
- Breast MRI
- Breast biopsy and aspiration
Krista Miller, Executive Director of the Cameron Hospital Foundation explains that that goal of the program is to help decrease the barriers associated with members of our community who have put off having annual mammograms. “By uniting as a community, we can work together to make sure every woman has access to education, screening, treatment, support and hope.”
She says finding out if you qualify is easy. The program is designed for women who are uninsured or underinsured. To find out if you qualify, talk to your Cameron provider, the Cameron team will take it from there. “Know that we’re all fighting together. If you can’t afford screenings, we’re here to help. By working together, we can inspire hope and become a force for good “to get her” access to the care she needs.”
Know Your Normal
In addition to routine screenings, there are other steps you should be taking to ensure breast health. Dr. Rumsey and Bobbi both stress the importance of breast self-exams. They recommend starting at a young age so you know what your own “normal” is. Dr. Rumsey says the reason for self-exams are simple, “Patients are better at finding lumps than doctors are because you are familiar with your body.” He goes on to explain that the difference in size could be the difference between a dime and a nickel. “Women can reliably find smaller lumps than doctors can.”
Bobbi suggests choosing a day of the month to perform breast exams so it becomes routine. She says one way to remember is to use the day of your birthday each month. The goal is for self-exams to become routine. “The more you do it, the better you get at it. Eventually you become an expert.”
If you do not currently perform breast self-exams, ask your healthcare provider about how to do it. You can also find information about self-exams online.
Don’t Be Afraid of Tests
Dr. Rumsey wants to reassure women not to be afraid of tests. “Most lumps are not cancer. Just because you find a lump it does not mean that you have cancer. So don’t be afraid.”
Bobbi also reassures women that the tests have no lasting pain. “People may try to scare you away from mammograms. In truth the tests are not painful and the benefits far outweigh any discomfort you may experience.”
Both specialists also remind women that they should continue getting annual gynecological exams throughout your life. These exams are important because they examine your pelvis, breasts and general health.
Look for Pink this October
Throughout the month of October, Cameron Hospital and Angola’s mound will be bathed in pink light. This is a reminder of the importance of women’s health, including breast cancer awareness.
Remember: If you see pink around the mound and at the hospital, know that everyone at Cameron believes we can fight breast cancer together.
Reviewed by: Todd C. Rumsey, MD, FACOG, Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Rumsey is an experienced, board-certified obstetrics and gynecology specialist who also serves as Cameron Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer. To make an appointment, call Cameron OB-GYN at 260-667-5670, or schedule an appointment online.
Reviewed by: Bobbi Brown, CNM, WHNP-BC
Bobbi Brown is a nurse midwife and women’s nurse practitioner who supports and cares for women during labor, delivery and after the birth of a child. She is now accepting new patients. To make an appointment, call Cameron OB-GYN at 260-667-5670, or schedule an appointment online.