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Taking action against breast cancer

It's breast cancer awareness month. Each Monday in October, we will be diving into ways IU Health Arnett is taking action against breast cancer.

Posted: Oct 1, 2018 1:47 PM
Updated: Oct 1, 2018 4:29 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — It's breast cancer awareness month. Each Monday in October, we will be diving into ways IU Health Arnett is taking action against breast cancer.

According to IU Health Arnett, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Doctors at the IU Health Arnett Medical Office Building in West Lafayette said nearly 40,000 women will die of breast cancer each year. But they share how you can avoid becoming a part of this statistic.

Dr. Phyllis Martin-Simmerman has worked with IU Health Arnett since 1984.

"So I've been here a long time," she said. "I've been doing mammography for that many years as well as in training so 39 years of doing mammography."

Which means Martin-Simmerman has been able to see breast screening recommendations change over the years. She said this is frustrating because she has seen breast cancer found early and late.

"If it's very frustrating if think you could have had a patient who would be cured of her cancer completely had we found it earlier," Martin-Simmerman said.

She recommends women ages 40 and older get a screened each year.

Martin-Simmerman said, "The earlier we find the cancer, the earlier stage, the smaller the lesion, the more likelihood that you're going to have a better than 90 percent survival."

You should also be screened if you have a strong family history of breast cancer. This applies to men as well.

"We actually see three or four men every year with breast cancer," said Martin-Simmerman "Obviously it's much less common than women but it does occur."

Martin-Simmerman said the technology they used is advanced and the hospital staff, "Try to make sure that we are on the cutting edge on any development that can help the patient."

This includes an MRI or Abus ultrasound and a 3-D tomosysthesis can be used for people with dense breast tissue. In these patients, breast cancer can be harder to find.

"So it's nice to have these additional tools to find that early cancer" Martin-Simmerman said. She said in this case, what you don't know can hurt you.

"You really want to find that breast cancer as early as you possibly can to give yourself the best options and the best opportunity to beat it," added Martin-Simmerman.

If breast cancer is detected, a team of experts will evaluate that cancer. The next steps include determining the best treatment for you.

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