East Texas doctors say mammograms should continue beyond Breast Cancer Awareness Month
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - With Breast Cancer Awareness month coming to an end, medical professionals are reminding people that screenings don’t stop. An East Texas office saw fewer people during the pandemic and are now seeing some larger abnormalities in patients who didn’t come in the last year.
Michael J Klouda, MD is the Medical Director of the Breast Care Center at UT Health. He said when the pandemic forced many places to shut down, they had to continue screening women.
“I thought the ability to be here to screen those women that wanted to come in for screening outweighed the risk of COVID at that point,” he said. “We maintained a screening volume, albeit a lower screening volume throughout the year.”
Now they’re seeing women who have waited a year or two to get screened and in some cases are finding abnormalities Klouda said they could have identified a year earlier had they presented.
“It doesn’t mean all hope is lost, of course, but it does mean we are seeing some more advanced disease than we might have had we caught it earlier,” Klouda said. “With early detection we’re hoping to find these tumors when they’re very small. The smaller they are the less likely they are to have spread, both outside of the breast and then into lymph nodes and through the lymph nodes to the rest of the body.”
Klouda said multiple studies have shown mammography to reduce death from breast cancer by 33 percent. Women aren’t the only ones they see. He said they see about 15 to 20 men a month, most of the time the complaint is benign, nothing that’s going to threaten them.
“They have various complaints such as a lump in the breast or breast pain and we’re evaluating them much like we would a woman,” Klouda said. “We’ll start with a mammogram, believe it or not, and it can tell us quite a bit in a man, and we’re able to then sit down, those studies are all done as a diagnostic study. We don’t screen men. Men, there’s one percent of all breast cancer diagnosed we find in men nationally.”
Klouda recommends women begin screenings at age 40 if they have no history of breast cancer in the family, and come in annually.
“I’d recommend women consider doing it around their birthday. That’s a gift you can give yourself. The gift of something that saves your life,” he said.
If there is a family history, he said it’s best to start ten years before the family member was diagnosed.
“Those women that have a family history, here at the Hope Breast Care Center we are able to do something called risk assessment. We take all these factors in an individual patient and they are placed into a formula calculation and we generate a number,” Klouda said. “If that number is over a certain number that woman qualifies for high risk screening and we sit down and go over those things face-to-face with the patient. Let them understand why they need to consider high risk screening, what it entails, and how often we do that.”
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